Friday, October 22, 2010

proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


If you stick the words "human trafficking" into a Google news search, you might just kill your feed reader and fry your brain sorting through the hundreds of articles. To save you an afternoon, some crucial pieces from the week (October 9 through October 16) are listed below. Be forewarned: once you're aware of what's happening around you, you'll want to do something about it.

  • Bill Hillar is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces colonel and the inspiration for Taken, a film about a man’s efforts to rescue his daughter following her abduction. Unlike the movie, Hillar’s daughter didn’t survive. According to Hillar's keynote speech,
  • · Two ways to fight the [the modern-day sex and labor slave trade] are through education and informing legislators of the need to change laws to prosecute pimps and employers, rather than the victims.

    · The crime is so lucrative that drug cartels are switching to selling women.

    · Someone can buy or sell a quantity of drugs or a weapon only once. They can buy a female over and over again.

    · The average age of sex slaves is 12, although in some foreign countries even infants are for sale.

    · During the world cup in Berlin, politicians rescinded a prostitution law and imported nearly 30,000 prostitutes.

    · This said, victims often are prosecuted when they have run-ins with the law…. It’s a problem because they aren’t prostitutes – they’re victims. Prostitution indicates choice.

    · Where do the 80,000 pedophiles come from? They come from this country, the United States.

  • "They sell illusions, they sell dreams. It's no surprise that people fall for all kinds of attractive offers from abroad pyramid schemes, lotteries, Nigerian letters [...] It's all good salesmanship." (Eda Mölder) What happens after a person falls prey to these lies?
  • · They may be trapped into marrying an immigrant whose intention is to get visa entry into the EU. Dozens of Estonian women have been lured abroad in recent years.

    · Others may be abandoned after a month or so. According to an Egyptian activist, about 900 children born to Egyptian women and Saudi men are left following "misfar" marriages. The article defines this type of union as one "contracted so that a woman may join her 'husband' for the period of time he travels in a foreign country.'" 90% of fathers leave the children born out of such relationships.

    · Some victims are forced to work at restaurants - including a Chinese buffet in Patchogue - at below minimum wage and live in squalid conditions controlled by their smuggler.

    · Victims may have their kidneys removed and sold to foreigners for up to $200,000.

  • Many types of exploitation exist, and many types of people are used to fill demand.

  • · Children are the most vulnerable. For example, children in Kenya have been subject to sexual exploitation and domestic work and are often lured by the promise of school. In Tanzania, children have been trafficked for street begging. (This week, British police found 103 Romanian children - including a 3 year old - who had been instructed to steal on London roads.) Children have also been employed in hard labor on farms. Child prostitution also occurs: Seattle is currently listed as first in the U.S. In Manitoba, child victims of sex trafficking are held captive in "micro-brothels" controlled by gangs. (For more information on the sex trafficking of children, check out this article by Rev. Shay Cullen published on Friday.)

    · Young women are generally targeted for prostitution. The Daily Evergreen writes of a need for reform in this area:

    - A "disgusting aspect of all of this is how desensitized prostitution is in today's society. states that the word pimp in today's culture refers to someone who is cool, rich, and successful with women. The reality is that a pimp is a slave owner who takes advantage of the vulnerable. It is a grotesque term.... As a culture, we must change this perception if anything is to be done about how these women are treated."

    - "These girls are usually taken from foster homes or from households where they were already abused. Then a grooming process is started where the pimps seduce the trapped young girls to fall in love with them. For girls from broken homes or those who never had one, it is easy to forgive a few bad traits just to have someone care."

    - "Then the abuse begins. It starts with emotional trauma, being told that they are worthless. It escalates to physical violence where they can be beaten within an inch of their life. The point is to bring a message across, that they are property and if they try to run away their owners will find them and hurt them."

  • In case you were wondering...

    · Benjamin Perrin said: "Craigslist has been called the Wal-Mart of child sex trafficking." (Canada)

  • · Blood Money: In the UK, "editors and publishers are likely to find themselves in front of a judge if they refuse to stop running sex ads which are later found to be linked to human trafficking."

    · Human Trafficking Blacklist: Malaysia was added after seven immigration officers and two officers were detained. This is not a new problem. The 2009 U.S. State Department Trafficking in Human Persons Report records that "Malaysian immigration officers sold [Burmese refugees] for about $200 per person to human trafficking syndicates operating along Thailand's southern border." The traffickers demanded ransom which victims were unable to pay; the victims "were sold for the purpose of labor and commercial sexual exploitation." On Thursday, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein announced: "I wish to remind all officers and staff who are entrusted with safeguarding all entry points of the country to carry out their duties and responsibilities with integrity. Do not betray the country to pursue material wealth."

    · Islamabad: Most Wanted Criminals Backed by Politicians: "Human trafficking has been a lucrative business worldwide, but its gravity dawned upon Pakistan as Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) intercepted over 40,000 persons at the Pakistan-Iran/Afghanistan borders since 2005." Director General FIA, Wasim Ahmad said that action is being taken against the immigration officials allegedly involved in cooperating with human traffickers.

    · The Simpsons: A video featuring a redirected opening sement caused quite a stir: "Asian laborers toil in unsanitary, dangerous working conditions, under ground, behind barbed wire, drawing the animation cells of the cartoon, stuffing Bart Simpson dolls and putting together DVDs. [Street artist] Banksy, no doubt, was making a dig at the fact that The Simpsons’ animation is partially subcontracted to studios in South Korea—a cost cutting measure for 20th Century Fox."

    · The Path Forward: Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large, Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, gives a speech at the University of Luxembourg on the Global Fight Against Human Trafficking.

  • Check out the abolitionist featured this week in the New York Times: Suzanne Daley showcased Romania's leading advocate for the victims of trafficking. Iana Matei, a psychologist by training, has been "pulling young women out of the hands of traffickers" for more than 10 years.
  • · In 1998, she answered a police call to deal with three young prostitutes. She said, "I was annoyed until I got there and saw these girls. The mascara was running all over their faces. They had been crying so hard. Journalists had been there and made them pose. And they were minors. They were 14, 15, and 16. But no one cared."

    · Matei "does little to disguise her disgust with legal systems around the world that fail to take trafficking seriously enough. 'When these guys get caught, they get what? Six years? Maybe. They destroy 300 lives and they get six years. You traffic drugs, you get 20 years. There is something not right.'" (Read more of Iana Matei's story on the New York Times' website.)

    On October 12, FM Droutsas gave a speech at the Foreign Ministry conference on "EU Policy and the National Action Plan for combating Human Trafficking." He ends by saying,

    "Ladies and gentlemen, if I could single out one basic message from today’s conference, it would be this:

    "We cannot and must not relax our vigilance. What we say and do will never be sufficient as long as the exploitation of human beings by human beings continues. We cannot have a clear conscience and we cannot be proud of the achievements of our culture as long as this phenomenon continues to exist.

    "Our country's goal is to be among the leading players in the international campaign for confronting modern forms of slavery. Our goal is not simply to meet our commitments....

    "Our goal is to be a frontrunner and - why not? - a model."

    In the midst of all of this, let it be true that our "eyes are ever on the LORD, for only He will release [our] feet from the snare." (Psalm 14:15) "The Maker of heaven and earth, ... who remains faithful forever .... HE upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, ... The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but He frustrates the ways of the wicked. The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations." (Psalm 146)

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    chim chim cher-oo

    During the months before school opened its doors and released its children to sunshine and sunscreen, the search for cool amusement gave way to the hopeless nurturing of spring fever cases. The virus began spreading like Silly Bandz throughout local elementary school, and all hopes for its containment vanished as the Houston-heat grew Houston-hotter. Thoroughly ignorant of the contagious nature of the disease, little boys stuck their heads out of backseat car windows and opened their mouths, contaminating carpool lines as they belted out Lady Gaga’s “Ale(-Ale-Ale-)jandro.” The fever passed through families, and children sought shelter in their neighbor’s homes, irrationally afraid of visiting grandparents.

    This kind of irrational behavior became a common symptom among the infected. Upon exposure to the disease, one nine year old admitted a severe craving for fish oil supplements. After placing a capsule under his tongue, he immediately expressed a need to retrieve an item left right outside of his home. However, the record shows that the child walked beyond his backyard gate, across his driveway, and under a tree before attempting to swallow. He then fell, knees to the earth, and began to dig a small hole. At this time, the vitamin was projected from the child’s mouth into the hole, covered with dirt, and marked with a dying daffodil. The child returned to the house empty-handed, refused to comment on the incident, and never acknowledged the four large kitchen windows which bore witness to the entire event.

    On a similar evening, a game began in the traditional way: laughter could be heard throughout a cul-de-sac as eight children ran to hide. However, no one is certain what happened between the counts of one and one hundred; a rash onset of the fever is suspected. The filed episode reported that when the seeker, Kid 1, opened his eyes and cried out, “Ready or not…,” he also found Kid 2 standing in front of him, hands over his eyes. Kids 3, 4, and 5 were lying flat, squished together like sardines, in the bed of a truck parked in front of a nearby house. As Kid 1 looked for the rest of his hidden friends, Kid 6 left his spot behind a tree to chase a squirrel. He picked up a soccer ball and threw it in the squirrel’s path. The ball smacked the hood of the truck and set off an alarm which was later reported several streets over. Kids 3, 4, and 5 sat up in confusion. Kid 7 was startled by the noise and stood up from behind the trashcan where he was hiding on the other side of the street. His sudden movements knocked the trashcan over and sent it rolling down the driveway. When it reached the bottom of the driveway, Kid 8 (litter-ally) rolled out of the trashcan.

    Neighborhoods who experienced the epidemic also reported unnatural amounts of string cheese consumption, several occasions where backyard swing sets were turned into water parks, and a couple of disillusioned victims changing the words of “La Cucaracha” to “Ra Mochalaba.”

    Vaccinations have not been created, but studies have found that several months of vacation between the months of May and August aid even the most severe cases. The start of school in August has been shown to encourage the reappearing of minor symptoms, but all traces of these particular instances have disappeared at the arrival of football season, pumpkin spice lattes, winds in the east, and mist coming in.

    "Can't put me finger on what lies in store, but I fear what's to happen all happened before."