Thursday, July 16, 2015

Modern Sexual Exploitation


In 2001, a friend of mine began working for an anti-human trafficking organization as a liaison and a zealous abolitionist. I’d never heard of sex trafficking before except brief mentions on Dateline regarding girls overseas that were abducted and sold. Over the next few weeks, my friend offered me a crash course in sex trafficking—plying me with statistics, news articles, case studies, and books addressing the topic.

Absolutely horrified, I began to extensively research the topic, sickened by some of the things I read. What kind of monsters could do that to another human being? Was this for real? It was a reality that was hard to fathom or comprehend for my average, then-twenty-something suburban mind. In 2009, I wrote a novel on the topic, AllThat is Right and Holy.
 
Although I originally had agent representation for the book, in 2009 the Christian fiction world was skeptical about taking on such a tough subject, so I eventually self-published. My readership was small, but I was amazed by the response I got. People contacted me to tell me they’d never heard of this issue and were eager to learn more about it.

In 2015, it’s impossible to turn on the television or open a newspaper without reading about trafficked women and girls. Venues posing as massage parlors, restaurants, or modeling services house the trappings for young women that span all ethnic and social demographics. Schools, shopping malls, and train stations are hunting grounds for the runaway, the naïve, and the lost. This has prompted me to write another novel on the subject, which is currently with an editor, after which I’ll begin shopping it around to agents and publishers.

Because I do write about darker topics, I’ve changed up the focus of my blog to feature snippets about trafficking, pornography, and child exploitation issues for my Thursday posts. On Friday, I’ll still have more light-hearted Favorite-Things-Friday fun.

Trafficking was never just an “over-there” problem, people simply didn’t realize that trafficking was not only about moving people across borders. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the formal definition of trafficking is found in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.” This broader, more modern definition would of course include prostitution of all kinds, pornography, stripping, etc.  Make no mistake. Sex trafficking happens every day in our towns, neighborhoods, and in our schools.    

If you’re interested in learning more about the wide-spread nature of sex trafficking and exploitation, check out the National Center onSexual Exploitation based in Washington, D.C. They are passionate about the work and comprehensive in their resources.

Have you heard about specific incidents of sexual exploitation in your city or town?
 

7 comments:

  1. Such a relevant topic. Good to write about it and get the message out. In San Diego, I was aware of several organizations that helped get people out of sex trafficking, as well as the church we went to at the time sponsored a house down in Tijuana, Mexico that rescued girls from it. I will have to see here now where I live what is available to help victims. I'll also have to read your book some time!

    betty

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    1. Betty, that's wonderful. Tijuana is a huge trafficking port. I think we will start seeing more organizations cropping up to help rescue girls. Sometimes the trouble is convincing them that they want to leave. They're often so scared or so emotionally tied to their pimps that it's hard getting them out.

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  2. I live in such a large city in Florida that I'm sure we cases of exploitation. Not long after I moved here in 2009, a little girl disappeared while walking home from school. The garbage trucks were out that day, and a detective had the idea to follow the truck from that neighborhood and see where it ended up. Sure enough, there she was--her body in a heap of garbage in Georgia. I'm not sure if the garbage man was the criminal, or if they picked up her body with the garbage and didn't see they had a child. When The Hurricane was in prep school, twice the head of an organization in D.C. that fights slavery and trafficking visited her school. I wish I could remember his name. I saw him quoted in The Atlantic Monthly soon after that. He told The Hurricane that he hoped when she finished college she would come to work for them, but she chose grad school. She's well aware of trafficking and exploitation, however, and is careful to leave her office to arrive home before dark. It's terrible that she can't have the freedom to walk where she pleases, but that's the way it is.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie - do you live in the Jacksonville area? I remember that happening - my aunt lives very close to where the poor girl was abducted. :(

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    2. Janie, I have heard that Florida is a prime trafficking area. Especially Miami as you have a lot of transient people going in and out of the city. Bigger cities always attract traffickers, of course, but smaller towns are not immune either.

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  3. I'm told that there is a LOT of trafficking here in N.C. We have a lot of Mexicans that come to this area for temporary work - I think Mexican women are often exploited.
    "All that is Right and Holy" is such a haunting book. I learned so much from it. I think that a novel is a powerful way to get the word out there.
    I look forward to reading and learning more from your new novel, that you mentioned here.

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    1. Lisa, I'm sure North Carolina has its fair share too. Yes, Mexican women are particularly vulnerable as they cross over into the US. That's interesting regarding the Mexican population there--I wasn't aware of that. Any particular area in NC?

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