Last Friday our church had a documentary screening on human-trafficking. It wasn’t our typical relax-over-homemade-pizza-and-TV Friday activity, but we decided to go anyway, reluctant as we were.
The video was about 90 minutes long, and afterwards there was a panel of church leaders and members who shared how they were helping in the area and around the world to fight the problem. J wanted to stick around and talk with some people at a few tables afterwards. We bought a Tiny Hands bracelet at a booth, and then I asked if we could go. He tried to make conversation on the way to the car, but I just couldn’t speak.
Once our car doors shut, I lost it.
For five minutes in the church parking lot, I cried uncontrollably. Deep gut-wrenching sobs. I wept for the orphans sold into slavery. I wept for the girls herded and bargained like cattle. I wept for the children whose parents permitted, even encouraged, a lifestyle of prostitution, because it was more profitable than other professions. I wept for the women on display in Amsterdam windows for men to purchase for the night. I wept for the women who were tricked by the glamor of a Pretty Woman happy ending, stuck in abusive and violent lifestyles. I wept for the millions of children sexually abused by trusted family members, beginning a life of shame and fear and self-worthlessness.
But above all, I wept because I felt so helpless. The problem was so huge. The number of women too high. The trafficking too smart. The corruption too big. How could I do anything to make even a dent in this problem? It was too much, the evil too great.
It’s easy for me, and most of us I think, to feel helpless and then move on. Feel sad, but chalk it up to another issue we can’t do anything about. Go about our lives and assume someone else will handle it. Someone with more resources and more leadership and more access for change.
But then I think of the African slave trade. Abolition didn’t happen over night, and it didn’t happen from one person single-handedly abolishing slavery. It took years of hard work and awareness and advocation and reform from thousands of individuals who cared enough about the lives and humanity of those persecuted.
I want my grandkids to learn about this issue in their history class. I want it to be a horrible thing that used to happen. On the same list of past horrors like the Holocaust, African slavery, genocide. I want them to ask me if I did anything to help, and I want my answer to be yes. To show them tangible ways of how an average middle-class girl in North Carolina can make a difference, albiet small, in changing the world for the better.
Here is the trailer for the video, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls.
Why is Amsterdam lumped in there with child sex trafficking? My understanding is that prostitution is legal and regulated in the Netherlands.. I think they even pay taxes. I actually visited the red light district in Amsterdam and saw the women in the windows. Way different (way way way less conservative) culture than North America. It was actually the same in many of the cities I visited in Germany, but Amsterdam is the biggest tourist one so it gets the most press.
I agree with you completely – this breaks my heart and it seems so overwhelming! Even if prostitution is “legal”, that certainly doesn’t make it right! Our bodies are for a much larger purpose than sex as a business!
Thanks for sharing, Ginna. It’s a horrific condition in our world that we close our blinds to. Listen to your tears and see how God will use you and J.
Thank you so much for sharing your heart on this painful issue. <3
I have to agree with you that this is a tragedy at any level.
Europe is doing a lot to try and get a handle on human trafficking, as far as children are concerned. You cannot fly out of any european country without a notarized document from BOTH parents or legal guardians. Even if a child is traveling with its mother, they cannot fly without consent from the father. Working in law enforcement, I often wish that the United States had similar protocols.
If you’re interested in learning more about slavery and how you can make a difference as an individual, I suggest reading “The Slave Next Door” by Kevin Bales. This book gives specific things that we can do as individuals to make a difference in our own towns, and check out http://www.freetheslaves.net.