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?