Half the Sky has been on my reading list for a while, so after reading a few fiction books in a row, I decided I needed something that would challenge me a bit more.
If you’re not familiar with it, Half the Sky is a journalistic account from a husband-and-wife team about the oppression of women worldwide. The early chapters focus on sex trafficking, and because the authors are telling the true stories of real-life women, it’s hard to read. After a few chapters in a row, I had to put it down because the stories are so heart-breaking.
It’s a familiar story by now. Young girls promised lucrative jobs in a far-off city or country. Desperate parents wishing for a better life for their girls. Broken promises. Debt. Bondage. Slavery.
From the comfort of our western, American world, it’s hard to imagine that such atrocities happen (and that they happen to children as young as 7 and 8).
But the stories are true. And just because they make me uncomfortable doesn’t make them less real. Real women and children are suffering somewhere in the world while I sit in comfort in my house. Real women and children are forced to do unspeakable things while I’m in a loving relationship that demands nothing of the kind. I don’t have to worry about my kids taking a job that could lead to their slavery. Even in our most desperate financial circumstances, we have options that don’t include giving up our children to potential traffickers.
I no longer allow myself to feel guilty about this. I had nothing to do with where I was born. I’m not sure whether I should call it a blessing or not because people born into different circumstances are no less favored by God than I am. Grace and mercy, they are offered to us all in equal measure, and I will not call myself blessed because my circumstances are different than those who live elsewhere.
Guilt–and the avoidance of the issue that often follows–isn’t the solution. Neither is pretending that I can save the world. There’s a better way.
Once a month, I choose to blog for The Exodus Road, an organization that works with local organizations in countries where trafficking is prevalent. One of the things that impresses me about the organization is how it collaborates with so many people. They empower and train local investigators and supply state-of-the-art technology and equipment to assist in raids. It’s amazing how many people are involved at various levels.
Sometimes I think I can’t do any good in this arena. What can I do from here? I can’t rush off to Southeast Asia and assist in a rescue. At least not without training or money or a clear sense that it was what I was meant to do.
But I’m challenging myself to not focus on what I can’t do and instead focus on what I can do. So, what can I do?
I blog, obviously, not just to bother you with uncomfortable material once a month but to remind myself that I have a duty to speak for those who are overlooked. Once a month, I force myself to think about women and children whose lives are not what they hoped but who are not without hope. Rescue is coming. It’s one of my favorite phrases used concerning trafficking because it’s true and it offers hope where there shouldn’t be any.
I can blog and I can pray. The Exodus Road works with people of many different faith backgrounds, but I think we all can agree that rescue and redemption and transformation are ultimately out of our hands. Prayers for fervent hope, protection and justice are good things to pray for.
I can read the stories in books like Half the Sky and The Exodus Road and countless others and refuse to look away.
And I can give. The Exodus Road has numerous opportunities for financial support and other creative ways to support rescue.
How exactly does a rescue happen? If you’ve ever seen a news report about an arrest, raid or rescue, maybe you’ve wondered how that comes about. I have. Here’s a graphic provided by The Exodus Road that shows the process from start to finish.
What is one thing you can do in support of those who work to end human trafficking?