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Tag Archives: end human trafficking

My Words as Weapons: Time for some good news

Since I just launched my second book, my blog has been heavily concentrated in author related content, meaning I’ve neglected my other purpose of spreading awareness about human trafficking.   Sometimes getting caught up in the mire of that topic can become a heavy weight, and I just wanted to think happier thoughts for a while.

Here we are, smack in the middle of the 2014 World Cup. I enjoy soccer and have been watching quite a few of the games, trying not to think about the implications of so many men gathered in one place for a month long sporting event in a country that is already one of the worst as far as the sex trade on human trafficking is concerned. So I thought I might write about this, but then I remembered that I covered that concept already back at the time of the Super Bowl, and I thought, Maybe I could bring some happy news once.

And so, this time I share, not my own words as weapons, but an encouraging story that shows that if people, groups, governments work together, we can free people.

This is one link that came to me through my subscription to the Trafficking Report offered by traffickinghope.org

 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/06/23/fbi-trafficking-sex-children/11271829/

My Words as Weapons: Man Up!

real men

A new trend had developed, and it’s stupid!  More and more men in today’s society are using the excuse that they don’t have time or money to invest in developing relationships with women, so they would rather just “pay for play.”  It’s easier for them to use the working girls who are guaranteed to put out.   They are tired of taking girls out on expensive dates and “not getting any” even after a first date.  The creepy part is that those men were already trying to buy their women even before they decided to give up and move on to prostitutes.  They have a demeaning view of women in the first place and have basically decided that respecting a woman and truly taking the time to get to know her is work, while they really only want sex anyway.  Perhaps they are victims of our demanding society. I read this quote from a random john in the book I’ve been reading (The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy it):

“I grew up in the age of fast food and hi-speed internet.  I want sex NOW. Not in weeks, months? Years?!”

Who is to blame in this case, the johns or society for feeding this with the need for instant gratification at all times?  Deep down humans were all created for relationships, so this way of thinking is a perversion to the natural order of life.  And once men begin to do this, their outlooks are forever tainted and altered because the reality of relationships becomes askew.

Some men have been hurt in relationships and feel it’s safer for them to purchase sex and live out a fantasy with the women they buy.  Seriously, relationships take time and sometimes they hurt. To these men I want to say: Man up already and deal with this thing we realists call life! Sorry about your broken heart, but it happens to everyone. You live, you love, you lose, you learn, you move on. You don’t shut yourself off and just start buying people. That’s ridiculous.  That person you’re buying has feelings and emotions too and you are now victimizing her because of your selfishness and inability to deal with rejection. Sure, the one you pay for won’t reject you, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t repulsed by you just the same.

This outlook of pay for play, this mongering, needs to be addressed and stopped. Perhaps the increased number in broken homes, thus a lack of relationship modeling, combined with our society’s need for immediate gratification have led to this, but education can still lead us back. Spread the word.

 

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.

 

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: 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: 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.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Wednesdays are supposed to be my day to write something in keeping human trafficking on the radar in some way.  The extreme polar temperatures felt much around the nation this week (it even dropped to 28 degrees with a real feel of 15 for a few hours early yesterday morning in my little section of Florida) are my inspiration for today.

American homeless

When the temperatures drop, the homeless become more susceptible to death by cold.  This is a serious matter and many who wouldn’t normally seek shelter will place more demand on the available homeless shelters, and in some cases, some will regretfully be turned away.

What does this have to do with human trafficking?  When Amber Alerts are issued people are on the lookout for a kidnapped child.  What about runaways?  Sure, someone may file a missing child report- that will depend on the reason the child ran away-  but there are so many, they will likely not get much notice.  Where do these kids go?  Often, the streets.  Then they become prey for traffickers.  After all, they will be hungry, cold, and alone.

According to non-governmental U.S. sources;

  • Average victims age is 11 to 14
  • Approx 80% are women and children bought, sold and imprisoned in the underground sex service industry
  • Average life span of a victim is 3 to 7 years (found dead from attack, abuse, HIV and other STD’s, malnutrition, overdose or suicide)

The largest group of at-risk children are runaway, thrown away, or homeless American children who use survival sex to acquire food, shelter, clothing, and other things needed to survive on America’s streets. According to the National Runaway Switchboard  1.3 million runaway and homeless youth live on America’s streets every day. [5,000 die each year] It would not be surprising to learn that the number of children trafficked in the United States is actually much higher than 300,000.

(This information came from The Ark of Hope for Children)

So please consider the homeless when it’s cold outside.  Are there ways you can help in your own community?  But especially consider that each homeless person you meet has a story, and some may be in danger of being trafficked and exploited. hat can you do to help before they become victims?

homeless child stamp

Here’s a link to an informative article through CNN.  Yes, it’s a few years old now, but the information is still relevant.

Cyber Monday: How you can buy gifts AND save and change lives

nydailynews.com

nydailynews.com

Cyber Monday, or the smart alternative to Black Friday (see horror above), serves that purpose or may help aid in the recovery of those who have attempted Black Friday and, as a result, never again wish to leave their homes.  Just a few days after the stampedes at the big box retailers, and after people have had so much turkey leftovers that they no longer have the motivation to move, online retailers take over.

Interestingly, my husband Robert works for a rather large retailer, and he informed me that many of their online deals are better than the sales were in the stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, so you really may be better off shopping from home.

Robert and I simplified our Christmas gift giving a few years back, but if we were still up for the commercialism, I have found some great resources we would use because they also support good causes, mainly fighting human trafficking.  I only have a small list compiled, but I am sure more wonderful resources are out there.  Though we live in a time of horrible injustices, we also live in a time where more movements seem to be rising almost daily in order to stand against and combat these injustices.  So, if you know of any more, please feel free to add them to the comments so others can also be informed.

  • First of all, Amazon has a great program of non-profits being able to get a small percentage of purchases (Amazon Smile), but you need to sign up for the organization so that as you buy gifts, or even a few treats for yourself, you are actually contributing to a cause.  You have options, but I found out about this through Love 146, one of my favorite organizations that combats trafficking, spreads awareness, and offers aftercare.  Follow this link to sign up.
  • I also know of a few great places set up with the purpose of empowering people who may not otherwise be able to make fair wages, and they are truly beautiful items.  Imagine Goods is one I discovered through Love 146, as they have a line of clothing, but there are also other artisans on their website.  Another, Trades of Hope, was actually started locally where I live and they have artisans worldwide (and some right here in the US).  Through today, TOH is offering selected items at 50% off.
  • You can also donate to organizations in someone’s name as a gift.  Again, I discovered this through Love 146, but there are other organizations out there if something else suits you better. These are called Giving eCards.
  • Not For Sale, another great organization fighting human trafficking has an online shop as well. I’ve had the Rebbl tea, and it is delicious.

There truly are a number of other places where your shopping can do good for the world.  Please consider this as you check off your shopping list this holiday season. If Black Friday has left you feeling ill towards your fellow man, you can remember people with third world problems instead of first world problems, and touch their lives. Happy shopping.  Happy holidays.

*Since this post is all about helping your fellow man, and I plugged places mostly with a heart towards freedom and empowerment and human rights, this will be my human trafficking post for the week.

Brandishing, No, Wielding My Sword

Yeah, I like the connotation of wield better than that of brandish.  One is just waving a weapon in a menacing fashion, like a threat.  But the other implies the action of actually using a weapon.

I don’t want to just threaten like a child playing a game.  I want to actually kick some butt!  In this case, human trafficking.  I will draw my sword, advance, and fight, wielding said sword, and draw blood.

Warrior Woman Silhouette

I’m not a girlie girl.  I’ve said that before.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ll watch a chick flick, but I’m not going to spend the extra money to see one in a theater.  Only the most epic tales of courage and awesome special effects warrant taking out the small loan needed to pay for a trip to a movie theater these days. These have always been my favorite stories, where a lone hero, or a small band of friends or warriors takes on something much bigger than themselves, even when it seems impossible.

I’ve said before that we should never stop fighting just because human trafficking is such a daunting and formidable foe, yet that’s what I have done.  Not on purpose.  I didn’t realize I had given up the fight, but looking over my actions over the last few months, I see I have done very little to advance the cause, and

I am ashamed.

I intended to use some of my new found time in researching, promoting, and finding ways I can help. Instead, I read a book, started following some organizations on Twitter, and nothing else.

I am declaring it now.  I am recommitting to the cause, to the helpless victims who are suffering, to the vulnerable who need awareness and prevention.  I am recommitting to JUSTICE.

I’m a quiet person, locked inside myself most often, until I see injustice.  It stirs and moves me, igniting a passionate flame in my heart that burns so deeply I know I cannot contain it.

This is what I’m meant to do.  This is what my warrior’s heart is meant to battle, and it doesn’t matter that I’m smaller than human trafficking, because I plan to spread this fire in my back yard and worldwide.  This is a foe worth fighting.

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.

Stand in the Gap and Fight Injustice

It seems I’ve abandoned my blog for long enough.  My writing time (the little of it I have) has been going into the sequel for my Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl book, but with my passion being freedom for all (ending human trafficking), it seems appropriate to honor Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. today.

Technically, slavery had been abolished in the US and black people were living “free” lives when MLK stood up for their Civil Rights.  But he wouldn’t have had to do that if they were truly living in equality.  Through his nonviolent protests, massive marches, bus boycotts, and eloquent words, King sought to make people see that injustice still existed even if they were no longer the property of others. And he gained attention and respect for his efforts (obviously not by all since he was slain).  He could have stood by silently and watched and hoped for change.  Certainly people were aware of the injustice taking place.  But people easily become complacent, and often we think “surely someone else will stand in the gap for change.”  If we all think that way, no one will ever become the catalyst that makes the difference.

Fortunately, King was not content to stand idly by, and eventually others began to stand in the gap with him, and though there was opposition, change did occur.

There comes a time when we must take a look at the world around us, at the injustices and the cruelty, and decide if we are willing to become a catalyst for change, or to allow suffering to continue while we pretend we do not see it.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Maybe you were not aware of the slavery still taking place around our world, and in our own country.  After all, people have been ignoring it for some time now.  But it’s a growing industry, and lags behind only the drug trade for illegal profit, yet it continues to grow and gain.  After all, the services these modern day slaves are forced to give can be purchased again and again, while drugs are a one time deal.  Services over consumable products.

With somewhere around 27 million human beings enslaved worldwide, it is time more people begin to stand in the gap as catalysts for change.  Now that you know (and you cannot unknow the truth), spread the word in order to create awareness.  The more people really know and understand the injustice that is happening, the the more people will become eager to fight to stop it.

Many wonderful organizations exist.  Find one you want to support, one you can join with in the fight.

“No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and the righteousness like a mighty stream.'”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some of the wonderful organizations out there fighting against and creating awareness of human trafficking:

Love 146, Not for Sale, Shared Hope International,A21 Campaign, International Justice Mission, Somaly Mam Foundation

There are so many more.  Please find one close to you and plug in.  Nobody should be property.