Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Slavery. Our Girls Are Not For Sale.

Sometimes I sit down to write something only to realize that it's just going to be too hard to put into words.

I'm a busy mom...we just moved, Brayden had an accident and we landed in the ER, then our new house flooded, we moved out, our home was repaired and we moved back in. All that is coming in another post. I barely have found the time to post my recipes lately, let alone anything that requires actual writing.

Does something ever start popping up in your life to the point that you realize its no longer a coincidence? A few weeks ago I heard about a book (through Goodreads) called Sempre. I love to read, as you probably already know. I have particular genres that I prefer and this book, a book about modern day slavery in the US did not fit that bill, yet I decided to read it anyway.

In my head, this was all fiction. There isn't slavery in the US! I did a little research on the author and found some disturbing information. I was wrong. There is slavery in our country. Today. Now. I had no idea. I visited the author's website (you can find it here) and read some statistics and then visited the links on her page. What I read was shocking.

A couple of weeks later I caught an episode of Our America with Lisa Ling...a show I never watch. It was called 3am Girls. It was actually a followup to an episode she did a year ago about child exploitation in Washington DC. I learned something I had never even considered...some of those girls, faces on milk cartons and on bulletin boards in Wal-Mart with the words MISSING in all caps above their faces, some of them are now slaves. They've been taken, usually lured in by men promising to help them out of their abusive homes or other sad situations only to be forced into the human trafficking industry.

The episode I watched followed up with a girl who had been rescued from that life. She had been taken  into foster care and her life had done a 180. How did she end up in modern day slavery? Her dad was never in her life, it sounded like no one knew who he even was, and then her mom died. She ended up with her cousin who forced her into this so called industry. She was ultimately rescued and is now a happy, high school graduate with a boyfriend who loves her.

Why am I telling you this? Well, for one, I doubt I'm the only person out there who had no idea that this was happening in our country, our states and maybe even in this very city. One thing I do know is that there can be a lot of power in the written word. This issue does not receive the attention it deserves. I'm sickened to know that when these girls are arrested for prostitution - keep in mind I'm talking about young girls...12, 13, 14 year old girls - they are jailed. Not helped. Not rescued. Jailed and then released back into the life of slavery.

In 2008, New York developed the Safe Harbor law and eventually 9 states followed suit. But in the rest of this country, minors who are exploited are jailed for prostitution. Never mind the fact that a minor cannot give consent, making any act with an adult one of statutory rape. They are jailed like criminals. You can find more information on that in this article.

I'm sharing this with you because we need to raise awareness in this country about human trafficking. We need to change the laws so that these innocent victims aren't jailed and then turned back over to their captors. I also want to let you know of a couple of resources where you can learn more and also help - you can donate and volunteer your time to these organizations:

Courtney's House provides a safe haven for girls and boys between the ages of 12-18 who are survivors of human sex trafficking. You can find volunteer opportunities as well as ways to help/donate on their website.

FAIR Girls is another great organization.  In their own words:

FAIR Girls prevents the exploitation of girls worldwide with empowerment and education. Through prevention education, compassionate care, and survivor inclusive advocacy, FAIR Girls creates opportunities for girls to become confident, happy, healthy young women.
Founded by Andrea Powell and Caroline Tower Morris in 2003, FAIR Fund was created to empower girls in the U.S. and around the world who have been forgotten, exploited or otherwise are at-risk of not reaching their potential. FAIR Fund is now FAIR Girls. FAIR stands for Free, Aware, Inspired, Restored – this is exactly what we hope the girls we work with will become. It is a name that reflects our ongoing commitment to providing girls around the world the chance to live happy, healthy, empowered lives.

You can donate, volunteer and find other ways to help out and support the cause on their website.

You can find some of the clips from the Our America episode here.

So, sometimes sitting down to write something is much, much harder than I want it to be. I struggle with whether or not it's worth it, to take the time and express my feelings and thoughts about a particular issue.

And in certain instances, God continues to reveal something to you so powerfully that you can't ignore it, as is the case here. I hope that reading this will encourage you to get involved with this issue and help me raise awareness. Simply by encouraging others to read this post you are helping bring light to an issue that many don't even know exists. Donating of your time and money are wonderful gifts too.

I wish I had some great call to action about getting the Safe Harbor law enacted in all states but I don't...I don't know the first thing about politics and getting laws passed but maybe some of you do.

In any case, I know that I had to say something.

I hope you will too.

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer. I'm not a politician. I'm just a mom who heard about this issue and did my own research. All of the information and statistics can be traced back to their original articles. The information in this post is accurate to the best of my knowledge. 
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