RSS Feed

Category Archives: Human Rights

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

My Words as Weapons: A Reminder

My hand from last year's Shine a Light on Slavery Day

My hand from last year’s Shine a Light on Slavery Day

Tomorrow is the day to join the End It Movement and place a red X on your hand to help create awareness for human trafficking, which is actually modern day slavery.  I don’t have much that is new to say on the subject right now. Actually, just the other day a gentleman from church was talking to me about my blog (I had forgotten that the blog address is part of my email signature and I had sent out an email in regard to an event the church was taking part it and he had linked to it from there) and mentioned that he especially found my posts on human trafficking to be interesting.

This is awesome because it means I’m doing something right!

So I thought back to some of the posts I have made on the subject and I decided perhaps it was time to collect them into one pace and share it in time for Shine a Light on Slavery Day.  If you find any of these to be informative, interesting, or just heartbreaking or maddening enough to want to help, wear a red X on your hand tomorrow and share my post(s).

Awareness is a start.

Here are some of my past human trafficking posts:

To Love… (the fundraiser has long since ended, but the other content still applies)

Let Freedom Ring!

Human Beings are NOT Commodities

Hope Lies in Creating Ripples

All Men are Created Equal…All

Anyone Can Make a Change

Stop it BEFORE it Happens

Stand in the Gap and Fight Injustice

Righteous Anger

How Words Shape our Perspectives

Armed for Battle

The Unnerving Rising Number

Creepy American Tourists

Joining the Fight with Others

Super Bowl Trafficking

Let’s Shine a Light on Slavery

Join the End It Movement on February 27 (next Thursday) to help “shine a light on slavery.”  You can do this by marking a large red X on your hand.

End It

Why?  What is a red X going to do besides make it look like you forgot to wash your hands really well after you went out to the club?

The red X alone cannot end slavery.  If it could, I’d buy stock in red Sharpies and do it every day; however, if you’re out and about the red X may induce curiosity in others, who will then ask you why you’re sporting a red X, and then you can inform them that slavery didn’t actually end with the Emancipation Proclamation and that it does, in fact, still exist all over the world, including our own “free country,” the United States.  And then, BOOM, you’ve helped create awareness.  Changes cannot be made if nobody knows this exists, but if everybody knows, an outrage will spread and changes WILL be made through the stirring of our hearts to this injustice.  With awareness, a movement of action will spread.

There are ten great organizations joined in this coalition and all are committed to creating awareness, ending slavery, and/or rehabilitating those who are rescued out of human trafficking.  You can and should check them all out here.

Once you read this, please spread the word.  Share this post; share the website; wear your red X next Thursday; get involved any way you can.  Over 27,000,000 imprisoned people’s voices can be heard if you help.

http://enditmovement.com/#featured_video

My Words as Weapons: Super Bowl Trafficking

The Super Bowl has become an event far beyond the financial means of most people.  Only those with an overabundance of disposable income can afford to go to such an event, and because the audience is made up of such privileged people, many believing themselves to be far more important and untouchable than others, because alcohol consumption will be increased, and because the majority of Super Bowl attendees are men, sex trafficking will spike for the weekend as more and more young women, many underage, will be forced to give their bodies over and over again for the profit of others.

Here’s a creepy little tidbit for you:

“Dallas police and federal authorities arrested 133 minors for prostitution during the 2011 Super Bowl, and according to Forbes Magazine 10,000 prostitutes were transported to Miami for the Super Bowl in 2010.” –Michael Reagan’s “The Super Bowl and Sex Trafficking” from townhall.com

The numbers here are astounding, and I have to admit I’m almost equally outraged that so many prostitutes were arrested while their pimps and the johns seem to go untouched.  Those are the true criminals.

I’m thrilled to see news and training spread to create awareness of this atrocity.  How sad it is that we must anticipate more sales of humans for sexual pleasures than usual whenever and wherever big sporting events take place.  Consider this when you watch the Olympics in Russia in a few weeks (since the USSR broke apart sex trafficking victims have largely come from this area of the world anyway) or the World Cup in Brazil this summer.  At least each of those events only happen every four years (well, every two if we count summer and winter Olympics), while the Super Bowl is an annual spike for the trafficking industry.  It also pleases me that so many organizations prepare well in advance for these events, spreading awareness and training law enforcement officials and those in the travel industry, equipping them with the knowledge of how they can help save these exploited individuals.

I thought this was a great little segment to share:

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/sex-trafficking-spike-looms-super-bowls-shadow-22258289

My Words as Weapons: Creepy American Tourists

My blog spans many themes and subjects, from light-hearted to serious, but my aim on Wednesdays is to be a human rights activist, usually tackling the atrocity of human trafficking, a.k.a. the modern slave trade.

“If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.”
– William Wilberforce

Over the summer I read a book called Escaping the Devil’s Bedroom by Dawn Herzog Jewell, all about “sex-trafficking, global prostitution, and the gospel’s transforming power.”  While I read, I added tiny post-it notes to flag areas and content I found interesting, shocking, or that I knew I would want to address later.  It’s later now. Sometimes you just need to let information sit for a while to process.  Other times you forget, due to time lapsing, or laziness.  Mine was a combination of both, I think.  I’ve gotten into researching human trafficking fairly heavily a few times, but sometimes it just makes me so mad or sick that I need an emotional break.  Break’s over.  I believe I will use my post-it notes and this insightful book to inspire my next several Wednesday human rights posts.  Please share this information if you feel it can help make any difference.

American tourists don’t have a great global reputation.  This does not mean all American tourists are jerks or anything.  Sometimes I am an American tourist. However, we are often seen as rude.  I can top that.  Many people won’t believe this exists, but there is a whole network of global sex-tourism, and according to this book and World Vision, “Some predators travel specifically for ‘sex-tours’, expecting anonymity, low-cost prostitution, ready access to children, and immunity from prosecution.  Americans account for 25 per cent of child sex tourists, according to reliable global estimates.”   Sure, there’s another 75 per cent from other parts of the world, but how is it that one country alone accounts for so many creepy pedophiles on a mission to ruin the innocence of children in impoverished nations?

Disgusting!

The other part of this appalling information that caught my attention was the information that followed.  I knew already that Thailand and the Philippines were huge prostitution destinations, and that children made up a disproportionate percentage of these “prostitutes”, but I was unaware that San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, had more than 300 brothels, rivaling the others in this industry.  “Commercial sexual exploitation of children in Costa Rica could involve as many as 5,000 sex ‘tourists’ every year.”

Photo borrowed from Rahab Foundation's page

Photo borrowed from Rahab Foundation’s page

The reason this shocked me so much is that I was in San Jose two summers ago on a mission trip.  I saw some of the areas from where the victims are lured.  Costa Rica is not a poor country, but the difference between the haves and the have-nots is enormous, making the have-nots perfect for such injustices.  Costa Rica is also a huge tourist destination, and some tourists like to take part in the ‘local attractions.’ Many of those families cannot afford to exist together, and most of these young people will not be able to attend school for long.  What other options do they have?

My mission team first expected to work with the Rahab Foundation, located in San Jose to help restore and reintegrate families involved in prostitution, but the schedule would not permit, so we worked with  Roblealto Child Care Association instead, where we were able to work with at risk kids who are cared for in a way that will give them hope and prevent them from entering prostitution.  Seeing these young kids, it is hard to think of the dangers they face, and I am glad organizations such as these exist.  Perhaps one day, after I learn better Spanish communication, I can get back to San Jose and work with these organizations to show unconditional love and hope to these young people.