This is what Transitions Global believes when it comes to helping victims of sex trafficking. And I think I would have to agree with them. Their website goes on to explain that freedom without a future is just another form of slavery.
How can we offer a future to girls who have been exploited? Teach them skills? Help them start a business? I think that though these are part of the process, a bigger, even more substantial part must be our willingness to change oursevles and our attitude of “us” and “them.” Are we willing to open our homes and really get to know those who are suffering and overcoming trauma? Are we willing to live in a community context? Are we willing to listen to their stories? Are we willing to learn a new language so we can communicate better? Are we willing to live on less so we can give more?
I know lots of people who don’t like talking about human trafficking because it is an uncomfortable topic. We must get over our selfishness and change this problem from the inside out. The only way that rescue becomes a process instead of an event is when we change our mindset and change our lifestyle accordingly.
This week I checked out what Transitions Global is doing to fight sex trafficking, and came across an interesting point on their website: two key elements to eradicating human trafficking are raising the status of girls and women and eliminating the entitlement of men.
Transitions Global, along with other great organizations, is working hard to address the first of these by rescuing, restoring, and equipping young girls to overcome their trauma and build lives of purpose and success. But how are we to eliminate the entitlement of men?
In every country I have travelled, I have encountered men who have entitlement issues when it comes to women, through which they justify emotional manipulation, cat-calling, whistling, watching porn, and even rape. In Latin America it is machismo. In Africa men often say, “we are African men, we like sex more than other men.” These excuses reveal that many men feel entitled to women’s bodies, and girls and women are the ones who suffer as a result.
This entitlement fuels human trafficking. A friend name Adrian, who I met recently, suggested that maybe this entitlement comes from a lack of identity. Some guys have experienced abuse themselves and want to exert power over others to compensate for what they lost themselves. Others never had a good example of what as respectable man looks like. If this is the case, we need honourable guys to stand up and teach those who are younger how to respect women.
What are other ways we can eliminate the entitlement of men? I would love to hear your thoughts.
This is a picture of a poem written on the wall of what Brian McConaghy from the Ratanak Foundation calls a ‘rape cubicle.’ Translated into English, this is what it says:
There is a happy time, and then it ends
There is love, but for a short time and only in front of my face
Men boast we are pretty, but they are not honest with us
We boast we are pretty while we wear make up
No one knows it, but we are like petals falling from a flower
The only beauty we have is spiritual
Life is just life, it has no meaning
This breaks my heart. Picturing a young girl in Cambodia writing this on the wall in between customers makes me so sad. How old was she? Who was she sold by? Where is she now?
These girls, even when rescued, have a long road to recovery ahead of them. If you are passionate about the fight against human trafficking and are professionally interested in counselling and psychology, helping girls like the one who wrote this poem would be a valuable way to contribute.
Check out what the Ratanak Foundation is doing to help exploited children in Cambodia here.
I came across this great video clip online yesterday. Our friend Naomi Baker from Canada Fights Human Trafficking, MP Joy Smith, the Peel Police, and trafficking survivor Timea Nagy share their thoughts on sex trafficking in Canada. You can support Canada Fights Human Trafficking and learn more by attending their upcoming BE A VOICE event. Details below:
Friday, April 30th, 2010 – 6:30 p.m.
Versailles Convention Centre
6721 Edward, Blvd
Formal Attire and Dinner