By Katie Sobiech
As we wrap up this series of stories on Human Trafficking and the Stop the Trafficking conference held at the Chapel last month, it’s important not only to reflect on the reality of this injustice, but to find solutions.
The fight against human trafficking is not only about stopping those in the wrong, but empowering young girls and women so that they don’t return to these men – seeing prostitution as their only option.
By standing up for women’s rights and their opportunity to flourish and become something great in the world – we are allowing them to go places they’ve never dreamed.
Educating girls is a start – which countless across the globe never get to experience.
Stop the Trafficking highlighted ways in which women are being slighted in third world countries, how it’s having a trickle down effect in America, and how we can change this.
Standing up for Women
“The girl who recently spoke up for girls to be educated was shot this week by the Taliban,” Carolyn Custis James, President of Whitby Forum and Synergy Women’s Network, and author and speaker, said of the recent tragedy in the news.
Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old Pakistani girl, was targeted and nearly killed by the Taliban for supporting education for girls.
“It’s raised up a global cry for these girls,” James said.
“These women live in a world where they don’t count – Where they’re easily discarded,” she continued, saying “I’ve been awakened to this crisis of women.”
And she hopes many others are awakened too.
Half the Sky
James was moved by reading “Half the Sky”, the national best seller written by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn on turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide.
James traveled and saw first-hand the horrors of sex trafficking.
“It was cold, they weren’t dressed properly and it was horrifying to see that the city was more concerned about the trash on the streets than those girls,” James said of her haunting memories.
She traveled to France, continuing her research, and then wrote her own book “Women Hold up Half the Sky”. The book was written from a faith-based point of view discussing how to deal with this crisis and what the church can and should do.
“People told me, ‘When you go to India you will get your heart broken’ but it was an exhilarating experience,” James said.
It propelled her further into her mission.
Close to Home
“It hit closer to home when I came to America. There were pimps, girls hungry for love and the modeling ads that girls were responding to,” she said of some of the things she saw here.
Girls are being treated like princesses, bought expensive things and wooed and lured away by pimps in disguise- telling them what they want to hear to pull them into their trap.
Once they are pulled in, James says “These girls think of themselves as criminals instead of victims.”
“We need to open our eyes to what is happening in our country,” she said.
Beginning to Dream
The key to freedom is education, offering an alternative to prostitution for an income: educating girls in America by creating an awareness of the lures these pimps use and the price you will pay; and overseas, education through schooling.
James lights up when talking about the girls overseas who are being given new opportunities through schooling.
“I saw girls learning, growing and having dreams. It was extraordinary. I heard stories of some of them launching careers,” she said, “It was wonderful to see how things were happening to counteract the ugly things that were happening.”
At the end of the conference a very special guest from India took the stage – a 19 year old girl and graduate of Good Shepard School started by Dr. Joseph D’Souza, speaker and President of the Dalit Freedom Network.
D’Souza’s school offers girls an education and safe place so that they don’t have to succumb to slavery.
This young girl is studying for a Doctorate of Pharmacy and will soon be a doctor. She shared that her friends, who didn’t have this opportunity, married at 13 and 14 years old and have children.
“Christ made a drastic change in my life. I’m not privileged,” she said with a smile so radiant and a face beaming with thankfulness.
Twenty-four thousand kids are being kept safely at Good Shepard Schools now.
“They never have to be exposed to slavery of any kind,” D’Souza said.
Watch for the film “Not Today” (www.nottodaythemovie.com) which will be in theaters Spring of 2013. It encapsulates the message that “none of us is free if one of us is enslaved” and tells the story of a man’s journey to redemption through a trip to India and seeing its human trafficking first-hand.
For more information on how you can help locally and abroad, check out Parts One and Two of this story!