Community of Pain

The major difference is that they’re not alone… this city is full, FULL, of sexually hungry men and exploited women.  I press the down button to the elevator last night.  The doors open to a foreign man and local woman starting to have sex.  You even look at the populations in Starbucks.  Sit at this coffee shop in the morning and you witness pair after pair of odd couplings, struggling to communicate through their broken languages the morning after sex.  Come back in the afternoon and you’re left with mostly single, middle aged, foreign men working on their computers or reading the newspaper while swapping stories from last night’s escapades with their bragging neighbor.  The silent men either appear hung over or lost in thought of sexual fantasy.  I watch one man, clearly unable to focus on his work, give up, pick up his phone and call a local girl to propose sex.  My heart breaks because I figure at this time of day she’s probably been sleeping.  Many woman here start work at 4 PM and have 10-12 hours shifts.

That as it be, you’ll start to see these girls emerge from apartments behind the bars by mid-afternoon.  They’ll gather at the bars to finish putting on makeup or to do each other’s hair.  They’ve got to look their best to try and get the man to pay off their debt to the bar.  They’ve got to look their best to provide for their sick mother and father and young child back home.  There is simply no other option for them.  Some women were outright tricked into this business; others simply resigned to the reality that there was no other way.  The non-locals were probably kidnapped.  The chains, however literal or not, are all real.  They are chains of injustice.

I started by saying that the major difference is that they’re not alone.  People ask me how I can stand to work here with my own story of trafficking.  Well, we have a lot in common – these girls and I – but there are certainly some differences as well.  They have an entire community of other woman going through similar experiences – they have others to talk to.  I didn’t have that.  What they don’t have though is the opportunity to get out.  Growing up in America, it was difficult as hell to get out of The Life, next to impossible really, but I still had more chances to get out than these girls could ever dream of.  I had people who said they believed in me.  I could find scholarships for school and churches to accept me.  The sex bars that line the streets here are filled with women that will never know this kind of hope.

That’s why I come.  I come to share with them the hope that someone once shared with me.  There are people who care, there are now people willing to help.  There IS a way out.

May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as an encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

(Post originally written 6/10/12)

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1 Comment

  1. Nik

     /  June 18, 2012

    May God bless you richly with protection from within the hostile and perverted community you reach out to; with fortitude beyond your own strength to keep going; safety from possible over-confidence or mental acquiescence to any blind spots in your security which could possibly pop up from some old adage like, “been there, done that”; and that you keep your eyes on Him. Be careful Kiddo!

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