Book Review: In Our Backyard, Human Trafficking in America and What We Can Do to Stop it

belles_InOurBackyard_wSpine.inddThis was a powerful book. It made me cry, it made me think, it honestly has made me a little paranoid about the prevalence of human trafficking in my town. God says to not be afraid, and to not live in fear. So I will use the information in this book to make a difference rather than huddle up and be afraid.

Nita Belles has spent many years as a human trafficking abolitionist. From her extensive experience she shares that this horrible blight is actually an epidemic, and it is slavery, clear and simple. Perhaps its most known form is sex trafficking, but there is true labor slavery occurring around the world as well. It is not restricted to the impoverished or uneducated. Children, young men and women are enslaved everyday by criminals who have mastered the art of deception, pushing their particular form of trafficking in neat attractive packages that even well-educated, well-loved people can fall for. She shares the story of a 32 year old 5 star chef from the Philippines who wanted to better her career options and applied for a job in an American restaurant where she was told she would be earning enough money to really advance herself and support her beloved family. She was educated, intelligent, well-employed and had a supportive family, yet she was deceived by people who enslaved her through emotional and psychological abuse and manipulation as well as physical labor that rendered her body broken and weak. Her story does end happily with rescue and healing, although so many do not.

Nita Belles speaks to the fact that we are in fact grooming our children to be trafficked from childhood, as we use words like “pimped out” as compliments, dress our girls to mimic stars whose clothes leave nothing to the imagination, as we glorify the appearance of our bodies over the value of minds, hearts, and lives.  Pornography use has both conditioned people to devalue human lives as well as supporting and even growing the sex trafficking industry. She cites the awareness of trafficking around Super Bowl events as being instrumental in changing laws and limiting the freedom for traffickers at that time, but she reminds us that trafficking happens at all times in any places. We must be aware and make others aware, and remember that every human life was created with infinite value, and we must overcome our conditioning to look down on others due to their appearance or social, economic, or educational status.

In Our Backyard also gives good information on the way those enslaved in human trafficking think and cope during their enslavement. She explains Stockholm Syndrome, saying that many victims remain enslaved because their captors groom them to bond with them and become fiercely loyal to them. The road to recovery for a survivor is long and hard, only just beginning at rescue. We as the free need to not just advocate for laws that will discourage the criminals who traffic humans, but also work to establish real help programs that will meet victims where they are when they escape “the life,” in order to bring true healing and freedom. Please take time to read this book and get involved in or monetarily support the organizations that are working to end human trafficking around the world. As Edmund Burke says, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men [or women] do nothing.”

I was provided a free copy of this book by Baker Publishing Group for review purposes.


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