Photo by AGM-GSI
I recently met a Brazilian woman who used to sell sex to dignitaries and celebrities and wealthy businessmen. Some would call her a “high class prostitute.” As one of the brothel favourites, she made great money, but she didn’t see much of it- “third parties” always found a way to leave her with nothing. She initially entered the trade in a desperate attempt to feed her children. Eventually she was promised a better life in Switzerland, but upon arriving she was forced into a legal brothel, suffering horrific conditions that nearly killed her. She wept as she told me her story.
Yesterday, I read about your recent visit to a Brazilian brothel. It broke my heart.
As a fellow Canadian, I believe that one is innocent until proven guilty- I realize that the media is not always correct, and that where there’s smoke there isn’t necessarily fire. But if, indeed, you have been spending your time and money on commercial sex, I beg you, Justin, to reconsider.
A few years ago, I watched an interview where your mom talked about her childhood. She opened up about the sexual abuse in her past, and the lack of worth she felt as a result. In her teen years, she caught herself thinking that prostitution would be an easy way to make money. She didn’t go down that road, but she came close. Your mom explained in the interview that she totally understood how young women in vulnerable situations consider prostitution as a viable option to survive. A disproportionate number of people in prostitution are there because of lack of choice, not because of choice.
My husband and I just released a new documentary on trafficking and prostitution, and we actually considered reaching out to your mom – she’s been an amazing example of someone who overcame amazing odds to create a good life for you – and we thought she’d be a great advocate for the film and our mission.
Now take a moment to imagine if your own mother had entered the life of prostitution. Can you even imagine it? Chances are you would not be where you are today. Really, really, think about it. Homelessness, drugs, constant danger, an abused mother, maybe an abusive pimp, who knows. You could have ended up, dare I say, exploiting women yourself. Why would you want to do that to someone else’s mother? Or daughter, or sister, or friend? You’re bigger than that, aren’t you?
I once heard a talk by Andy Stanley to a group of influential leaders in Atlanta, and a question he asked has stuck with me for years:
What do you do when you realize you are the most powerful person in the room?
Justin, my hope for you is that you will begin to steward your power on behalf of those who don’t have any – maybe you were given this position for such a time as this.