Last week I wrote about International Women’s Day and encouraged you to do something to honor or help the women around you.
As I was writing that blog post, I was wondering to myself: “What am I going to do?” I told myself I would pray for an opportunity.
Without having time to utter even one prayer, I found an email in my inbox asking me for a BIG FAVOR. My friend Lydia works for an organization called Restoration Ministries –a Christian organization seeking to bring healing and wholeness to men, women and children trapped in sex trafficking here in D.C.
Restoration Ministries held its annual benefit concert this past Friday night, and their emcee had to cancel at the last minute. Lydia was emailing to ask me to fill in.
This was a big favor for her? Just the thought of it was such an honor for me. And it was an answer to a prayer I hadn’t even prayed yet. This was what I would do to honor women for International Women’s Day.
The Domestic Sex Trade
To prepare for the evening I started researching domestic sex trafficking.
To me, sex trafficking used to be something far away. I’ve spent a decent amount of time in Asia and that was my mental picture of the sex trade. Young girls, taken from their families in the rural parts of Thailand or India, offered a job as a housemaid for a rich family in the big city. The next thing they know, they’re on a stage, wearing a number, waiting to have their bodies sold.
But I started reading stories of young women from D.C. (the average age for women to enter the commercial sex industry is 12-14 years old). These women have often been tricked by their families, abused by their families, and sold by their families. Many of these girls don’t even know what has happened to them.
Seriously? This is what is going on in the city around me? I had no idea.
I welcomed everyone and shared that I was in learning mode, that I was not an expert in sex trafficking. Thankfully my job was to interview the experts. I interviewed the founder of Restoration Ministries and one of their caseworkers. They talked about trafficking in D.C. and the range of problems they are working to address. Candace Wheeler, Restoration Ministries’ founder explained that prostitution is a symptom of an underlying problem. Megan, one of RM’s case-workers explained the range of issues they are trying to address – from family strife to academic struggles to sexual health. They have their hands more than full.
I then shared a story a young girl who Restoration Ministries has been working with for four years who recently decided to go back to her pimp. It was an unsettling story, and it made these issues very real.
But I also encouraged everyone to think about how they could change that reality. When we allow our hearts to be burdened for those in need, when we allow our lives to be rearranged so we can free up time or finances to give to ending domestic human trafficking, we can help change reality.
The music, by Bethany and the Guitar, was awesome. I encourage you to take a listen on their website.
I don’t know how much was raised, or how many new people learned about domestic trafficking. But I know my perspectives were changed. And I know that I have a new burden about a problem I didn’t even know about.
International Women’s Day
It’s not too late – what will you do to mark the day?
Some other resources on human trafficking/sex trafficking:
- Nomi Network: Currently serving women in South and South East Asia, Nomi Network is a non-profit based in New York City dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty that is caused by human trafficking globally. (Bethany and the Guitar, the band that played Friday night also partners with the Nomi Network)
- iEmpathize: a child advocacy and media movement that creates and collaborates with grassroots solutions that impact vulnerable and victimized children. Working in the US and Mexico with development projects in Russia and SE Asia, they implement strategies in the field while inspiring culture to empathize and engage.
- Polaris Project: Named after the North Star that guided slaves towards freedom along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project is a leading organization in the United States combating all forms of human trafficking and serving both U.S. citizens and foreign national victims, including men, women, and children.