"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence
On Friday I joined some co-members of Hope4Justice who were driving down to Redmond for a training on human trafficking awareness. AWARE has created two programs that can be taken into public junior and senior high schools to teach students about the dangers of being forced into domestic minor sex trafficking and even how pornography plays into the trafficking trade.
Simply put, it was one of the most emotionally draining and mentally exhausting weekends I’ve had aside from serving in a humanitarian capacity on my missions trips. We heard from a mother’s who young daughter was coerced into prostitution and is still missing, we heard the experiences of two women who have survived the horrors of being trafficked. There were video interviews of other girls and boys who are still recovering from the psychological wounds they’ve received at the hands of pimps and buyers. I learned that the dancers at strip clubs (something our society tries to pass off as harmless) are often underage girls, as young as 13 years old. There were interviews with law enforcement from around Washington state (specifically Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland) who are fighting to protect children from those who would use them.
I walked away with a broken heart and a lot of facts rattling around in my head which I’m sure will be spewing forth through the coming months as we continue this fight against trafficking. Here’s a little bit to start with:
It’s more than numbers and facts, it’s the faces of these victims. Hope4Justice hopes to bring AWARE’s program to schools in the Bellingham area so students can be warned that they are the targets, no matter their home status, their situation in life, their age, their gender – they are all at risk.
But the other side of the problem is the demand. Kids will continue to be forced into pornography so long as there are people to purchase it. Kids will continue to be forced into prostitution so long as there are people who pay to use their bodies. And kids will continue to be forced to strip so long as there are people going to strip clubs to watch them. And when it comes to educating anyone about this, it’s about making it real. What if that girl was your daughter? Your sister? Your wife? Your cousin? The girls that are trafficked – they are all somebody’s daughter. It’s personal now.
Now mind you, a lot of people looking at porn/hiring prostitutes/ going to strip clubs aren’t looking to engage in an act of pedophilia. These kids are made up, dressed up, hair dyed, and dolled up to look like adults. Those things that “don’t hurt anyone”, because they involve consenting adults – they don’t exist. Even IF they truly are two adults, I’d be willing to bet that prostitute was forced into that way of life as a child and sees no way out at this point.
This might sound more like a rant and actually I’m shaking with anger as I write this. Anger that people prey on the weak, the innocent, and the hurting. Anger that it has gone on for so long. There are few places for victims of trafficking to go right now. Few, if any, safe houses and havens exist and that’s disheartening, but that’s being worked on. The fight isn’t over and yes, it’s overwhelming but we can’t stop now. Once you know the truth, it’s hard to turn away and ignore it. I have to cling to hope, we all do. Now is the time to turn this around. Now is the time to step up and be a voice for the downtrodden. Now is the time to stand in the gap for the defenseless. Now is the time to rescue them, teach them, and help them rebuild broken lives.
If you want to help, ask me how. Hope4Justice is connected to other organizations all over the nation that are seeking to end human trafficking in the U.S. and around the world. They need us.