Yesterday I attended a sex trafficking symposium at the Museum of Tolerance. The event was put on by the YWCA and lasted for over four hours. There were a number of politicians there including Kamala Harris, Attorney General for the state of California, Mark Ridley Thomas, the mayor of Compton (an African-American woman who is one of the youngest mayors in the nation) and many other elected officials. There were four panels consisting of four or five speakers on each. There were also two survivors of sex trafficking, bold, passionate, beautiful women inside and out. One is the director of the Los Angeles non-profit agency “Saving Innocence” and the other is the founder and director of MISSEY in the Bay area. These were the speakers who really captured my attention, and I wish the event could have been interactive, because I had questions I would love to have asked them.
I realize that it is imperative that we enact policies that will protect the women and children who are considered little more than commodities, but putting a human face on this issue is what pierces the heart. The two survivors, Kim and Nola, were such articulate well-educated and driven women who work tirelessly to put the broken pieces of lives back together. They say when a broken bone heals, it is stronger than ever, and I can only hope with my whole heart that this is the case for these devalued women and children.
I learned a lot. Gang members who once dealt drugs are abandoning that line of revenue to recruit women and children. Once the drug is consumed, new product must be secured, but human bodies can be used over and over for many years until they are no longer profitable, but that takes a long time, especially if you begin with a 12-year-old. Sometimes the perpetrator then attempts to gain a ransom from the families of the victims in an effort to drain every last drop of profit from them. I will now be more aware of situations that don’t quite add up such as a vacant home with a lot of traffic coming and going where victims may be forced to service “clients.” We were also taught that the customers who solicit sex with minors are not to be called “Johns.” They are to be known as pedophiles because that’s exactly what they are. May of these boys and men come from the same type of homes as the girls they victimize…children who are not told they are valuable, precious and worth protecting. In some instances, the parents themselves are the very ones who are trafficking them for their own gain. It boggles the mind, but it’s true.
A march against sex trafficking is scheduled for today on Western Ave. It was supposed to rain today, but instead it is a bright, sunshiney day, the perfect day to gather together and march. I like to think that the God who weeps at human injustice had a little something to do with the change of weather.
I am thankful God has lead me to keep this issue close to my heart. I have already sent an email to Kim from Saving Innocence, and I will be keeping my eyes peeled for ways to help in this fight to save those who have no voice. Lord, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the divine opportunities that will continue to come my way.