Thursday, August 1, 2013

What It's Really Like To Be Sold For Sex

Courage Worldwide, the organization I volunteered for as a writer and editor this year, has something to say about the 150 arrests and 105 girls who were rescued in a recent nationwide sting operation by the FBI. If you didn't hear about it, the FBI worked with local law enforcement in 76 cities across the U.S. and arrested 150 pimps and rescued 105 under-age girls who had been sold by the pimps for sex. A sting operation involves agents posing as buyers (known as Johns) in order to identify trafficked girls and gain evidence to convict pimps. This one went off incredibly well and was the biggest operation of its kind so far in the U.S.

Like news always does, they are quickly turning on to the next big story and leaving the rest of the details to...well, what does happen next? These girls have been rescued; but there is a long journey of recovery and restoration still ahead for them. Many are brain-washed by their pimps; there's so much to overcome just to convince these girls that they're worth more than what they've been used for and that a different life is possible for them.

Who's doing that work? Many people are involved, from Hookers for Jesus to Courage Worldwide. Jenny Williamson, head of Courage Worldwide and its founder, had some good thoughts about the nationwide sting ("Operation Cross Country") in her recent newsletter:

The FBI held a press conference to talk about the success of the sting operation and the issue of children being sold for sex in America. "It is getting worse." That quote haunts me. But what disturbs me more is the question, "Where will they go once they are rescued?" Sadly, there is still a severe lack of beds, services and funding for this vulnerable population once they are rescued.  I often wonder why.
I recently read that slavery wasn't abolished in the South until everyone came to understand the true conditions and abuse the slaves endured. I wonder if that will be true with these children. I wonder, if I communicated with great skill, in greater detail the true circumstances of this form of modern day slavery, would more people get angry enough to engage in the fight to make it stop? I wonder, if you truly knew the details of the abuse and torture these children suffer, would your heart break for these kids, the same way it would if the abuse was happening to your daughter, sister, niece or friend?  What would you do if the issue got that personal?

In answer to that question, Jenny is talking to some of her daughters about their stories. They are writing up a series of short posts about their experiences as child sex slaves, a "day in the life" description of what it really is like to be sold for sex every day.

The posts are gritty and true and they don't hold back from what it's like. We tend to think that the girls want this--but they don't. They so, so don't want to. I challenge you to read what they have to say in their blog series, A Day In the Life. I challenge you to listen and try to understand. This isn't just an issue. It's not that it's "cool" to be a part of a social justice movement. These are people. And they matter.

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” ~William Wilberforce

How true. May you know, break, and love.