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Category Archives: Human Rights

My Words as Weapons: Olenka’s Story

As mentioned a few “My Words as Weapons” posts back, I am reading Victor Malarek’s The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It, a troubling read indeed. On pages 27-28 (yep, that’s about as far as my anger has allowed me to read so far) Malarek retells a story of Olenka who was a sex slave at a bar in Bosnia at the age of seventeen. Many of her “clients” were soldiers an UN peacekeepers.

Yes, there is a sick irony that those who were to protect and “keep the peace” were the ones raping Olenka and the other girls at the bar.  It’s just another horror of a sex slave’s life.  Who do they have to turn to?

They are alone.

They are forgotten.

They are abUSED.

And to most of the men who do it, these women are less than human.  Because if they allow the women to be anything more, these johns will know they are the monsters hiding under those girls’ metaphorical beds.

Olenka’s story reminded me of a movie I watched, and knowing it is based on a true story, I can only hope it’s the same story and not just another incident of the same abomination.  If you ever feel like getting angry, watch The Whistleblower with Rachel Weisz.

 

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My Words as Weapons: Stripping the Soul’s Self Worth

We’re seeing more of a focus these days on “Fair Trade” items, which is great because it shows the awareness for modern slavery and gives consumers a chance to make a conscious decision to buy items they know were not produced through slavery or sweatshop conditions. Certainly, slavery in any form is a terrible injustice and must be stopped.

Now, I’m not sure why this is a debate, but in my reading and web surfing I have found that some people are actually angry that, in some cases, the flesh trade, or sex trafficking, often gets more attention than slavery which forces manual labor.  First of all, I don’t know that this is true.  I think more people know about the evils of sweatshops and the like than actually realize that people’s bodies are being sold for sex, not by their own choices. But even with that aside, I personally feel there are more layers of terror to sex trafficking; it peels away the soul, one john at a time. There is even more of a loss of self-worth and dignity in the chasm that is the flesh trade.  There’s a vulnerability in sex, and these are people who are forced to do it several times a day and night, for little to no money at all.  And for many, it starts when they are still children, sought out to be tricked and kidnapped into this vile life. Innocence is lost.

But why would people fighting for human rights even worry about getting caught up in which type of slavery is worse?  Owning human beings is wrong, no matter what they are used for.  It all needs to stop. There is a 1:9 ratio of the sex trafficked to those forced into manual labor, so I suppose it seems the percentage of those caught in the flesh trade is small in the grand scheme of human trafficking, but it is all wrong. Here’s a link to an interesting fact sheet from the Polaris Project to help put it into perspective.

Don’t just fight for one type of slave versus the other.  Fight for all the estimated 27 million people who have been robbed of their freedom.

My Words as Weapons: The Johns

There is a book that has sat on my shelf for over a year now that I just haven’t been able to open up to read.  I want to, and I did finally get through the intro recently, but I know it will make me angry and disgusted.  However, I feel it’s an important book to read in order to understand what is really behind the sex trafficking trade.

Victor Malarek, an investigative journalist, takes a stand to blame men for prostitution, a fresh perspective.  One sentence from the book jacket reads:

Ranging worldwide, from the United States to Europe, and from Costa Rica to Thailand, Cambodia, Ukraine, he dispels the myths that justify prostitution and puts on display the rationales of ordinary johns, their beliefs, their behaviors, and their astounding brotherhood.

I am intrigued, and I hope some of this insight might be useful in developing a plan and education to slow down and end human trafficking.

I also found a great interview with the author, under ten minutes.

I am vowing to put more effort into reading this and will report more as I read and when I finish. Time to get started.

My Words as Weapons: Giving Hope to the Hopeless

Sometimes I have felt that though there was a lot to learn initially when I became interested in fighting human trafficking, other than individual horror stories, I’ve seen or heard all the statistics and there seems to be no new news.  In fact, the latest news tends to be that numbers are constantly trending higher and it sometimes feels like a hopeless fight.  But that’s the problem right there:  I have to stop looking at the big picture and think about those individual stories, because helping everyone begins with helping someone. This is another reason I like presenting my readers (and those they share with) information on individual organizations out there dedicated to justice.  They may mostly share the same information, but their different approaches are what is interesting.

This week I am highlighting an organization based in Louisiana, Trafficking Hope.

And I did learn something new from their website.  It isn’t good news, but to me anyway, it is new news, and I was impressed with their page as it dedicated a list of some common myths of human trafficking.  There is much about this atrocity that people do not know or understand, so knowing the uncommon information is important in how we approach it.

MYTH: Females are the only victims of sex trafficking Estimates show that as many as 20% of sex trafficking victims are males. (United Nations Office on Drug & Crimes)

Another resource Trafficking Hope offers that I think is great is being able to sign up for their Trafficking Report in order to “Be prepared, Stay informed, and Get Involved!” This seems to be a gathering of various news articles and such on recent events, happenings, and trends.  I just signed up myself.

This organization seems to offer help both locally and nationally, as they have Hope House, a refuge and place of renewal for those escaping sex trafficking as well as advertise the number for the human trafficking hotline- yes, there is a hotline!

Trafficking Hope’s tagline appears to be “Giving hope to the hopeless,” which I absolutely love.

 

trafficking hotline

Proverbs 31:8-9

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
    ensure justice for those being crushed.

Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
    and see that they get justice.

My Words as Weapons: Some SAGE Advice

Usually I reserve Wednesdays as my day to highlight some aspect of human trafficking.  This week I scheduled a stop on a book blog tour for Wednesday, so I am moving it up a day.

I stumbled upon a nonprofit I thought was perfectly in line with the prevention of trafficking, SAGE Ministries. Their tagline on Facebook is “Changing the World One Girl at a Time,” which is exactly what we must do in order to keep as many girls out of the trap that can be created for young girls who feel they have nobody  to turn to and nowhere to go.  In today’s world, so many homes are broken and as I’ve discussed in previous posts, this can lead girls the wrong direction where they may become victims to people they think want to care for them but really just want to ensnare and enslave them. This organization is nondenominational but it based on biblical foundations.  They are not working directly as an anti-human trafficking organization, but it is my belief that organizations such as this, which address gender-specific issues, is a good place to turn and learn how to be responsible, loving,light-giving, supportive young women in a world that is sometimes so dark.   

My Words as Weapons: The Truth about Prostitution

I’ve said this somewhere in my blog before, but there has never been a little girl (or boy for that matter) who dreamed of being a prostitute, selling her soul and body over and over again, when she grew up.  So where do these practitioners of “the oldest profession” come from then?  Sure, some get lured in or kidnapped through human trafficking, but some of these women (and men) have chosen this profession for themselves, right?

That is what people tell themselves in order to ignore the plight of these people, in order to overlook the wrongful stigma placed on these people, and in order to not have to admit that we have more control and responsibility in ending this than we want to take on, and in order to not have to realize that these are people.

I read Escaping the Devil’s Bedroom by Dawn Herzog Jewell several months ago and though much of the book haunted me, something that really stood out was when a couple took notice of young women who “voluntarily” prostituted themselves (from page 26). “They lacked other viable options for supporting themselves and their families.  Many women told Mark that they chose prostitution, but, he says, ‘When you ask them what their choices were, they had only one choice.'”  Survival, fear, and trickery are the most common drives for women to prostitute themselves.  Then once they are in they don’t know how to get out and many are controlled.  They are existing, but they’re not living.  They do it out of necessity.

And who do we blame for the existence of this profession?  Most blame the prostitutes, not the men who purchase sex.  But it’s a simple supply and demand.  If nobody purchases sex, sex will no longer need to be sold.  Then changes can begin to take place.  And you may ask, what then will these women who have nothing else to offer do? That is why we need to not only end human trafficking and the demand for the flesh trade, but offer more to these women (and men) as a means to support themselves.  We are such a creative people and there are many organizations and growing companies out there offering  change.  We need to invest more into them, with money and our hearts.  We cannot change the world overnight.  I realize that.  But we can begin to change it in small ways, as long as we admit that we can.

How do we drive down the demand for sex?  That seems like an impossible obstacle to overcome, but turning the way we currently do things in the US (and all over really) upside down can make a huge impact.  I learned by watching an incredible documentary on human trafficking, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, that Sweden has done just this.  About ten or so years ago they switched the law around.  Prostitution is now legal, but the “johns” who purchase sex are arrested.  Demand has quickly taken a dive and pimps and traffickers aren’t interested in doing business in such a high risk setting.  What if we did that worldwide?  Change has happened there already, so we have proof that it works. Also, according to this article I found, Cook County, Illinois has been putting this idea into action to see how it works.  Also, Houston and Harris County, Texas have outlawed the johns.  Good for them.  Let’s keep it up and let it spread.

Take the stigma off the prostitutes and place it where it belongs, on those renting and ruining human souls.

Where Do We Go from Here?

I pulled this image from a great and brief blog post by Rob Morris of Love 146

I pulled this image from a great and brief blog post by Rob Morris of Love 146

Exactly a week ago I had a large red X drawn on my hand as a symbol to bring awareness to modern day slavery, more commonly referred to as human trafficking (a term many don’t understand), and so did many others.  I blogged about Shine a Light on Slavery Day and the End It Movement, and so did many others.

It was awesome to see celebrities and regular people flooding social media with inspiring quotes and pictures of them showing off their marked hands.  People who had been unaware were asking questions, which was exactly the point.

But now what?  I wore an X on my hand and more people know about slavery, but what can we do about it?  Plenty.  You can give to an organization that fights the atrocity.  You can find a way to get involved in the fight through one of the great organizations out there.  You can blog about it or find your own way to continue to spread the word.

JUST DO SOMETHING. Sorry- I don’t usually do the all caps yelling thing, but I really need to emphasize this idea. You need to find your own way to contribute to the fight.  Imagine if everybody who now knows about the 27 million slaves today took some sort of action.  That number would fall drastically.  So help to end slavery.  How?  Below is a list of several organizations I know of, and there are so many more.  I suggest you research what is available in your local community too.

Love 146

A21 Campaign

Not for Sale

Polaris Project

Free the Slaves

International Justice Mission