By Father Joseph Breighner
I was actually changing channels to catch some football games, when I landed on a station that was doing an in-depth report on human trafficking. To put it mildly, I was shocked and stunned by the show. This particular program focused on human trafficking in Cambodia and Vietnam, but the commentators made it clear that human trafficking is a worldwide issue.
What’s happening is that young children, as young as 2 or 3, are being sold into sexual slavery. Some children are actually sold to traffickers by their own parents. Others are kidnapped from the streets. Others are “bought” by people who promise to take care of them.
It showed how the girls were kept locked in small cubicles. Their “customers” consisted of drunk tourists and Foreign Aid Workers, “Peace Keeping” troops and local military and citizens. No one asked where the girls came from. They were just objects of lust.
Suffice it to say, the show was sickening. Many of the girls were beaten and tortured for refusing to cooperate.
The bright side, of course, was about former prostitutes who were now devoting their lives to rescuing other girls. They would raid some of the brothels and take the girls to a haven. Sometimes the human traffickers would send their own thugs to bring the girls back.
But these people persist in their efforts to rescue, restore dignity, and to educate the girls who were set free. Obviously, most have been severely emotionally and physically damaged. But love has a way of working miracles. To see these young people, years later, happy and safe and getting an education is heartwarming.
First, what can we do? I would suggest we help the agencies that help the children. Catholic Relief Services might be a good place to start. I’m sure they partner with various organizations in the rehabilitation and education of these girls.
Second, pray. As the poet said, “more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”
Faced with evil, prayer is our first choice.
Third, as a part of prayer, send love. Send love each time you think of it to the young people living in such traumatic and abusive and cruel situations. Love works miracles.
Send love to all the people involved in rescue and rehabilitation efforts. The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Finally, and most challengingly, send love to the perpetrators. That’s hard for me to write, much less practice. But we send love, not because people are always good, but because God is always good. I found myself sinking into depression watching the show. As I began to send love, I could feel the energy of God lifting them up, and lifting my own spirit.
We need to send love to those who are profiting from, and keeping this sexual slavery going. We need to melt hearts. Don’t forget, the author of one of the most beautiful hymns we sing in church, John Newton, was himself a slave trader. His lines in the hymn, Amazing Grace, were autobiographical: “I once was lost but now am found. Was blind but now I see.”
Send love to those using these children to satisfy their lusts. May their hearts come to see wounded young people – not sources of recreation.
Recently there was an article in the New York Times about the former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund! He was forced to resign because sexual parties were regularly thrown for him by people who sought his favor. The parties would begin with everyone fully dressed enjoying a sit-down dinner. Before the evening was over, everyone was naked and having sex with multiple partners.
The New York Times quoted this individual as saying in his defense: “Lust is not a crime.” But lust is a sin. And we live in a society where we are constantly bombarded with sexual images in magazines, on television, and in films. Sex is portrayed as recreational, not relational, or procreational.
So let us pray for changes of heart so that we may yet see each other as images of God, not simply images of desire. The world is changed one heart at a time. That’s how Jesus did it. And when we love, we renew the world again in God’s image and likeness.
Copyright (c) Nov. 8, 2012 CatholicReview.org