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Tag Archives: Nefarious: Merchant of Souls

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.

Human Beings are NOT Commodities

Wrecked.  Anguished.  Destroyed.  Devastated.  Shattered.  Crushed.  Broken.

Normally, putting words together is something I can do fairly easily, but I cannot find words powerful enough to truly express and show my feelings after I watched last night an amazing documentary called Nefarious:Merchant of Souls.  Yes, it is as ominous as it sounds, as this documentary exposes the world of human trafficking for what it really is, and it is aptly named.  No other film ever made me cry as much as this, except maybe The Passion of the Christ.

I wasn’t completely unprepared.  I have been researching this atrocity for a while now.  I knew it would be difficult to watch and know the truth, but I wanted to press on anyway.  At one point in the film, I had to ask my husband to pause it because at that moment, I could not go further emotionally.  They were just finishing up with their journey into Cambodia, and it involved a pair of blood stained pajamas for a girl the age of seven.  SEVEN!  They had been found after a raid, I believe.

Once you know something like this exists, you cannot ignore it, which is why so many people choose to remain ignorant on the matter.  Yes, I said ignorant.  That doesn’t mean people are stupid.  It means they are uneducated in that area, and in this case, by choice.  But this cannot be ignored any longer.  Approximately 27 million people are enslaved around the world today.  About 80% of them are trafficked for sexual exploitation, and an alarming number of them are minors.  In fact, in the US, the average age of children trafficked for sexual exploitation is 13-14.  I’d like to give credit to the source where I got these numbers, but I’ve seen them time and again in the process of my research, from varied sources.

I remember learning about the abolitionist movement which existed before and throughout the Civil War, and I just figured that was history.  After all, it ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, right?  But slavery is more rampant today than it was even during the African slave trade.

Many people don’t want to acknowledge that all the prostitution in the world, both “legalized” and not, is a result of trafficking.  Sure, there are some women who seem to go into the “industry” willingly, but about 95% of them also come from a background of sexual abuse and little to no self worth, which means their vulnerabilities/weaknesses/past injuries were exploited.  Most women are tricked, coerced, or even kidnapped and forced into prostitution because no little girl ever says, “I want to sell my body when I grow up,” and demand from sexual perverts is high.  Human trafficking is the second most lucrative trade in the world.  After all, pimps can sell the same merchandise time and again.

Except they aren’t selling the same merchandise.  No.  Every time that girl, or young woman (or even boy or young man- it is not as common, but does happen) is sold, she loses another part of herself, of her soul.  So she is not ever the same, losing her identity and her value sometimes up to 30 times a day.

Trafficking is like an onion.  It has intricate layers, and it stinks!  Whether it’s legalized or not, if it exists in a country, you can be sure there are payoffs happening to government officials somewhere up the chain.

The first glimpse into this idea I think I ever knew of was in a fictionalized tale I read for my Women in Literature class back in college.  Comfort Woman by Nora Okja Keller is a fictionalized story of a Korean woman who had been sold by her own sister to be a “Comfort Woman” to Japanese soldiers during WWII.  The conditions were terrible and I was shocked by what I read.  I knew the story was fiction, but it had to be based off some truth, right?  Sometimes I would randomly think back on that.

Then I watched this video by Love 146 in church one Sunday, and it reminded me of that novel, only this was definitely real.

http://love146.org/love-story

Since then I slowly began to research this modern day slavery.  I even was part of a 200 mile running relay race where my team decided to use the race to raise awareness and funding for Love 146.  My husband and I began to feel compelled by God towards doing more, but we haven’t really known what or how to do anything.  The mission trip I am about to embark on to Costa Rica will be a chance for me to work with the Rahab Foundation, an organization helping survivors from the sex trade to recover and rebuild their lives.

Like I said, I’ve felt for a while now that there is a future for me in this fight somewhere, alongside my husband.  But when I watched that documentary last night, all the little questions and doubts I had been having about whether it was a real calling or not completely left me, to the point where I could almost physically feel it (yeah, I know that’s weird).  I know that I cannot imagine myself doing anything else with the rest of my life but helping to put an end to this worldwide crime and to do what I can to work with these girls and women and to give them hope…

to give them God…

to share with them my favorite scripture… Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)

One of the women in the film who had been prostituted, but was rebuilding her life mentioned something about being a princess because her father is God, the King of kings.  The only way most of these women can ever get out of the mindset they have been put into is to have hope, and for most of them the only place they can find hope that deep is through Jesus.  Maybe you think that’s just a bunch of crazy religious fanatical stuff, but why is it people always have the instinct, whether they think they believe in God or not, to cry out to Him in their times of need?

If you want to learn more about this topic, there are countless organizations out there dedicated to this cause, including the ones I linked to already.  Please find one close to you and see if you can help.  Also, if this inspires you at all, please share it.  We need to raise up an army of abolitionists who will fight for those who currently have no voice.  Each of these “victims” or “survivors” has a story.  Each is a living, breathing, feeling person who should have hopes and dreams.  What gives any one person the right to put any other human being through something so inhumane?

Let Freedom Ring!

It’s been some time since I have felt compelled to contribute my “voice” to cyberspace, but I’ve been ruminating on much: my future, human trafficking, serving people and God.  How can all of these ideas coexist?  A better question may be, how can these ideas not exist together for me? Many of the thoughts I have been pondering will remain deep in the caverns of my mind for a bit longer, though I will expound on my recent thoughts on the atrocity of human trafficking: the imprisonment of human beings against their will for the purposes of trade and profit.

Last Sunday was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, and this Monday many of us get to enjoy a day off from work to celebrate President’s Day. President Lincoln remains one of the favorite presidents among many, even to this day.  Talk about being a president up against hard times!  Yet he was able to reunite our nation (which is a good thing since other countries were waiting and hoping our young republic would fail even then) and end slavery in the United States, neither of which was a small or easy task. Yeah, he’s one of my heroes. The cool hat is just a bonus.  However… I cannot help but imagine Lincoln would feel heartbroken to learn that slavery still exists, not just in other areas of the world, but IN OUR OWN COUNTRY as well.

Then I also think of William Wilberforce, who spent his life working to abolish the African-British slave trade. Just three days before he died, he was informed of the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, and he was able to die with the peace that his life’s work had not been in vain.  Though I cannot help but imagine Wilberforce would feel demoralized if he learned that worldwide slavery still exists.  In fact, there are an estimated  27 million people enslaved today, which is more than double the number of Africans enslaved during the entire Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

People unwittingly believe that slavery no longer exists, or they feel it is happening in remote areas of the world, and so they care little about the matter.  If people are ignorant to this activity it is because those of us who do know need to keep spreading the word and make people aware.  Creating the awareness is the first step to take in order to make a difference.  But for those who do know yet choose to ignore it or to believe whatever is happening in remote parts of the world is of no concern to them, they are just as guilty as those who actually shackle other human beings.

In my efforts to educate people on the matter of human trafficking and modern day slavery, I actually have had people ask me not to tell them about it because it’s awful and they didn’t want to know something that bad exists.  Why not?  Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away! Should we behave like ostriches and stick out heads in the sand?  Facing it head on, spreading the word, and working to abolish slavery in all its evil facets is the ONLY way it will end.  Otherwise we’re just big stupid birds with our butts in the air.  If this makes you angry, good.  Get angry.  Get downright furious… and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”  Albert Einstein

My husband and I watched Taken starring Liam Neeson last night.  I know as a Christian that I am not really supposed to promote violence, but I have to confess that I enjoyed the idea of these evil people involved in forcing unsuspecting young women into prostitution “getting what they deserved.” Sure, the movie is fictional, but there is truth in it too.  This sort of thing truly does exist and it makes me angry.  Most often it is in a similar form to that of what takes place in the movie, but young children are also sold, kidnapped, and forced into it as well.  In fact, up the 1.2 million of these victims are children, some of them as young as six years old!  At this point, angry seems a weak word, but whatever it is, it is a righteous anger.  God wants us to be angry at injustices because we should not accept them; we need to find ways to stop them.  This doesn’t mean we become vigilantes, but we can certainly start by informing others of these injustices and contributing in whatever ways we feel we can to prevent, to rescue, and to rehabilitate.

“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.” Proverbs 31:8-9

Here are some of the groups I know of that are fighting against human trafficking. There are more of them out there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-VC8AUE3Bc   Nefarious: Merchant of Souls trailer

Love 146

FIGHT (Fight Injustice and Global Human Trafficking)

Somaly Mam Foundation

Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking

Team This is STILL my AWESOME back