You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.~ William Wilberforce
Over the years, I’ve heard of sex-trafficking on the news or from a few friends who attended an informational meeting, but the urgency for creating awareness didn’t set in.
Several groups were presented at Allume last year, but after chatting with a few of the people from The Exodus Road, something about their ministry kept drawing me back to ask more questions.
After picking up a copy of their book The Exodus Road: A Wife’s Journey into Sex Trafficking and Rescue, I settled into my seat and was thrown into a world I can’t get out of my mind.
Written by a homeschooling, missionary wife of young children, Laura Parker shares the story of how she and her husband, Matt, a former youth pastor, work undercover to help girls who’ve been sold into sex-trafficking and slavery, all while trying to carry on a sense of normalcy within their home.
It was harder than I thought, too. This straddling of two worlds, sheltering of one from the other. It was like I was on foot in a back alley with a pack of snarling wild dogs closing in.
While it was a quick read, I wouldn’t call it an easy one. The families working to help rescue these children have many of the same trials and obstacles that the rest of us face, except they also carry the burden of walking into something that many would be happy to pretend isn’t happening.
Conveying her emotional turmoil not only for her family but also reading about the first hand experiences from her husband, brought me to tears. At other times, all I could think was “What if my own daughter or son was out there? Who would rescue them?”
People like to talk about trafficking, but not a lot of people actually help.
How do these young ladies and even young boys find themselves here?
Some are sold into it, even by family members. Others may think they’re accepting a legitimate job only to find themselves in this situation and can’t escape. Kidnapping and even emotional manipulation–promises of love, stability, and support for those who don’t have a positive home life are also factors. A variety of reasons exist.
Two stories were especially heart-wrenching for me:
One included six retired men who “golfed on Wednesday afternoons,” and paid to have a group of young boys brought to them for sex parties. The authorities (at least those who weren’t corrupt) had pictures of the pedophiles but didn’t know where the boys were coming from and needed someone to go undercover to complete the investigation.
The second was a story of Sarah, a 15 year old who was sold into sex-slavery by her own mother.
While her husband was undercover with surveillance, Laura watched from her computer and noted:
I watched as men talked over her, laughed around her. Sarah had been sold by her mother in Burma, trafficked across Thailand and now into Malaysia, and landed here–in a brothel, without money or passports, unable to speak the local language. Two days earlier, they sold her virginity for $600.
Sex-trafficking is happening all over the world, including here in the States. According to the FBI’s report, “The United States not only faces an influx of international victims but also has its own homegrown problem of interstate sex trafficking of minors. Although comprehensive research to document the number of children engaged in prostitution in the United States is lacking, an estimated 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.”
The Exodus Road is working to help form rescue groups, bring on investigators, raise support for those working directly with the children, and other avenues to help spread their mission.
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