‘Behind all those big words are human beings’

How about a bevy of links for your weekend? These are all what I deem “Well said!”

-I probably say this a lot, but this is why we fight…for justice that is. The title for this post comes from this inspiring video.

How are we doing on the current Millenium Development Goals?

-Are you the parent of a tween? The aunt of one? Or an uncle/cousin/relative/friend/teacher/pastor/acquaintance  of a tween? Basically if you are alive and know anyone else who is currently a child, you totally need to read this:

People will actually vote for who they think is the least attractive in the comments, and whichever girl’s name is written the most will be awarded a big fat X drawn across her face.

Do you want me to repeat that last part?

Of course you don’t, but I’m going to anyway.

Whichever girl’s name is written the most will be awarded with a big fat X drawn across her face. [read the rest] (H/T Todd Query)

-Worlds collide when my friends Adam Ericksen (a UMC’er) and Tripp Hudgins (an American Baptist) have a fantastic 8 part blogalogue regarding Rob Bell’s new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God. The fun begins here.

-United Methodist uber-blogger, Morgan Guyton, is back at it after a Lenten break. He’s whip smart and engages with a wide range of topics.

-Our friends at CAASE and End Demand IL just launched a new campaign: The Ugly Truth.

“The Ugly Truth” is a multi-media communications campaign that was created by The Voices and Faces Project, an End Demand Illinois partner, to challenge myths about prostitution and remind the public of the harm endured by those in the sex trade. We’ve created our campaign to reach millions of Illinois citizens, calling them to better understand – and work to end – sexual exploitation.

Check it and add your voice to their campaign. 

Your turn! What are you reading and writing and doing for justice?

It’s still about supply and demand. #EndDemand #EndSlavery

You’ve heard the River Story, right? I first heard it from Jim Wallis, but it seems to be a popular parable. I heard it invoked again at the meeting of Bread for the World activists last week.

It occurs to me that is the context within which I have heard it used: ending poverty.

But ever since we screened Call + Response, I’ve been thinking about something Kevin Bales says in it:

This is an economic crime. People do not enslave people to be mean to them. They do it to make a profit.

They do it to make a profit.
In other words, human trafficking/modern-day slavery follows that most basic of economic principles: supply and demand. Traffickers make money because people are willing to pay for the supply they offer. In this case, people. People sold for labor or for sex.

Rescuing trafficking victims and supplying them with much-needed care is, obviously, vital work. Work that requires a dedicated long-term, interdisciplinary approach. The best example of which I am aware is Anne’s House.

But, as the River Story reminds us, while that good, vital work of providing care for victims happens, we must simultaneously send people up the river to find out who and/or what is pushing them into the river – and stop it!

International Justice Mission does a good job of this by prosecuting traffickers.

But even that isn’t quite all the way up the river, is it? It seems to me that source problem is people who seek to buy people. If we end the demand for people (for sex and for labor) we will end slavery.

End. Slavery. That’s really what this is all about.

Those best doing that work, at least here in the Chicago area, are CAASE and their companion effort, End Demand IL. I hope you’ll check out their work and support them.

CAASE Executive Director, Rachel Durchslag, was featured in Huffington Post last week. Here’s a taste:

Most johns (men who buy sex) know that they cause harm when they support the sex trade, but they continue to buy sex because they face very few consequences. I know this because I conducted a study that interviewed 113 johns in Chicago, and only 7 percent of those interviewed had ever been arrested for buying sex. When men are targeted by law enforcement it’s called a “reverse sting.” Why is it a reversal to arrest purchasers?

It’s a reversal for our culture because purchasers are men, and as a society we have always blamed women for prostitution. This needs to change. If there were no demand, there would be no prostitution.

Their work is producing good results, making a real difference. Here’s more from Huff Post:

One Chicago study revealed that, on average, women entered prostitution at the age of 16. Girls are often recruited by someone they have come to trust, even by a boyfriend or family member. Until our Illinois Safe Children Act passed in 2010, minors in prostitution were treated as criminals. Now, no minors in Illinois can be prosecuted for prostitution, the term “juvenile prostitute” has been removed from the books, and there are increased penalties in Illinois for pimps and johns.

Our law enforcement partners are also stepping up. Just this summer, we saw a huge bust in Cook County that brought down nine traffickers who were selling women and girls. Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Sheriff Tom Dart said that new wiretapping capabilities from the Illinois Safe Children Act were crucial to building the case. It wasn’t largely publicized as part of the sting, but more than 50 johns were also arrested.

One way Woodridge UMC is attempting to end demand is by talking honestly with our young men about how our culture objectifies women and how that objectification denies their basic humanity. We hope our young men will be part of the generation that changes that!

How about you? What are some ways you are ending demand for slavery?

#EndDemand in order to #EndSlavery

“I’m not seeing a lot of cases where there’s not coercion,” she added. “The average age where a girl is forced into prostitution is 12 to 14. And most of these 16- or 17 year-olds are being run by pretty vicious pimps.”

National Human Trafficking Prevention Month is winding down, but the actual work of preventing human trafficking continues. Two terrific posts yesterday – one national, one local – demonstrate the need for action and offer ways to meet that need.

Abolitionist and New York Times columnist, Nick Kristof, calls out Backpage.com for helping pimps trafficking girls. That’s not a euphemism, I mean girls. As the quote above from Lauren Hersh, “the ace prosecutor in Brooklyn who leads the sex-trafficking unit there,” demonstrates.

Kristof tells the story of a 13 year-old, whom he calls Babyface, who managed to escape from her pimp (read: trafficker). But not before “she was bleeding vaginally…her pimp had recently kicked her down a stairwell for trying to flee.”

Why does Backpage need to shut down its adult services section?

Babyface had run away from home in September. Kendale Judge [the man who became her pimp] allegedly found her on the street, bought food for her and told her that she was beautiful. Within a few days, he had posted her photo on Backpage and was selling her five to nine times a day, prosecutors say. When she didn’t earn enough money, he beat her with a belt, they add. (emphasis added)

Further Kristof writes, Backpage “is a godsend to pimps, allowing customers to order a girl online as if she were a pizza.”

It was that line that caught Kristin Claes’ attention over at the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE):

That’s not the first time we’ve heard that comparison, and [Kristof’s] sadly very right: When Rachel Durchslag, CAASE’s executive director, interviewed 113 johns in Chicago, one purchaser said: “I usually call for a girl, you know, like a pizza.” There are so many disturbing things happening there–a girl being a commodity, available to order–it’s important to know that johns are a driving force as much as pimps are.

I know it’s easier to avert our eyes from this sort of atrocity. But we must not. Girls like Babyface aren’t just in New York or Mumbai. They are here too. Fortunately, the news isn’t all bad:

we [in the Chicago area] are fortunate locally that Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Sheriff Tom Dart are embracing the End Demand approach. We’ve seen signs of progress in Illinois, with local stings that led to the arrests of more than 10 traffickers and 27 johns.

Please read Kristof’s and Claes’ full posts. Then pick an action they suggest and take it.

Want a different option? Come to Woodridge United Methodist Church on Wednesday, February 15 at 7:00pm as we screen and discuss the anti-trafficking documentary Call + Response. The event is free, we have plenty of parking, we’ll provide some snacks, and child care is available.

Whatever else you do, be a modern-day abolitionist.