Thursday, February 19, 2015

Isis and Human Trafficking

In the past couple of weeks I've attended three different human trafficking events. Besides the Slavery No More Global Forum on Human Trafficking, there was the Human Trafficking 101 meeting put on by Traffick Free Pomona. The other meeting was put on by C.A.R.E. 18, a collaborative effort to fight human trafficking in Los Angeles County.

This intense focus on human trafficking started me thinking about how different modern-day slavery is from the slave trade of yester-year when Blacks were torn away from their families and homeland and brought to the U.S. to work for wealthy plantation owners No doubt the inhumane treatment back then was every bit as bad as the inhumane treatment today. It was egregious and horrible and so very wrong. The main contributing factor to both of these travesties was/is greed. Still many indicators suggest that the ideology of today's problem is far more complex, therefore making human trafficking far more difficult to abolish.

Entertainment, How Can We Call It That?
During the Entertainment, Media, & the Arts Panel at the 2015 Global Forum, thought leaders discussed the desensitization of our culture. Lyrics from Usher's "Baby I Don't Mind" communicate a powerful message about what guys like him expect from their girls. Sounds more like a trafficker to me than one of the best-selling artists in American music history. And sweet Miley Cyrus of Disney fame now claims to promote feminism, but really what she's promoting is bondage to a cultural image of raunch that sets girls up for a more serious form of enslavement.

Perhaps even worse are the video games where traffickers meet gamers in chat rooms and groom them to become profitable chattel in the not-so-far-off future. Glamorizing prostitution and violence indoctrinates boys and girls alike into ideology that denigrates their worth as human beings and destroys their ability to be intimate. Rather fantasy takes precedence as it did in the movie "50 Shades of Grey." This sex industry sells fantasy--where a person becomes what another person wants them to be. And, if that's sick and degrading--so be it. The viewers I listened to on the radio clamored for more despite the psychological damage such films do. In the process intimacy--where one person wants to know the real you--is lost. And so is genuine romance.

So What's This Got to Do with Isis?
There's nothing fantasy-driven about radical Islam and how it takes the idea of human trafficking to new lows. Where the ideology exhibited by the entertainment industry is insidious, the exploitation of women and girls by Isis is overt, oppressive, and violent in the extreme. And it is self-sustaining--a source of income that along with oil smuggling exceeds $3 million a day. That's money being put toward the destruction of freedom for every breathing human being who disagrees with their ideology.

So in this war, more innocent children are continually being put at risk--children who probably never even watched Usher or Miley Cyrus. Brutally taken from their families young girls are being sold as so-called "brides" to the highest bidder--sometimes that may only be $10.00. It's reported that more than 39,000 children around the globe are forced into marriage every day. If Isis has its way, that number is sure to escalate. And, I wonder--do we care or have we become so desensitized by our entertainment that it no longer matters? Would we rather be entertained than get involved?

Where are those who unlike Miley Cyrus are true feminists--those who care about girls and women being treated with dignity and respect? Where are those who care about the ideological battles that rage? Whose side are you on? Shouldn't we all be on the side of today's children who face such an uncertain future? And if so, how can we not do something to give them a future filled with hope?

Groups like Traffick Free Pomona and C.A.R.E. 18 involve people from every walk of life: businessmen, attorneys, educators, nonprofits, law enforcement, filmmakers, musicians, and the list goes on and on. It's going to take everyone to protect the girls and boys at risk. They're all watching the entertainment and if Isis keeps moving forward with the speed it's been moving; radical Islam may also become more of a factor than we ever imagined. If there's not a group in your area, then one needs to be started and many are available to help with that effort.

Complacency is not an option. In the length of time it takes to watch a movie, your group might just do something that saves a child.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Human Trafficking, Rescuing Victims

Awareness. Prayer. 68 victims rescued. Nearly 600 pimps and would-be sex buyers arrested. Sometimes the news isn't all bad. Sometimes it brings hope.

And, that's the case today. ABC7 News in Denver reported on a nationwide sex sting where 570 arrests were made over a two-week period starting on January 15th and ending on Super Bowl Sunday.

The Los Angeles Times also reported on this 17-state collaborative effort to rescue girls forced into prostitution. The article said that: “Sex trafficking continues to destroy countless lives, and this broad national movement should send a strong message to prospective johns that their 'hobby' is much more than a 'victimless' crime,”

The language has changed, and now maybe the tide will too. At one of  Traffick Free Pomona's 
first human trafficking "awareness nights," the police detectives still spoke of the girls being trafficked as though they were criminals. Now the police and the media have it right. The girls are "victims." The johns are "perpetrators" and their activity will be prosecuted. It goes without saying that those pimps who get convicted will go to jail or more likely prison for a very long time.

And you can make a difference. Police spokesman Sonny Jackson told the Denver Post when speaking about the arrests made in their area that:"we consider it a quality-of-life issue. ... It is usually complaint-driven, where people are complaining about activity in their neighborhood."

Do you know what's happening in your neighborhood? Or how to recognize a human trafficking victim? They are all around us and being informed is one way to make a difference.

If you've never been to a human trafficking event and live in the Inland Empire, please join Traffick Free Pomona this Thursday, Feb. 5th at 7:00 p.m. We're meeting at PFB Purpose Church, Room H104, 586 N. Main Street, Pomona, CA. Learn what is human trafficking? Where it's happening. And, how you can help abolish slavery.