Sex and Money and Poverty and Abuse and Sleep…
This journey in orange is not only for those wearing or who have worn the orange uniform of incarceration. I also wear this uniform of the imprisoned for the billions of the poor and marginalized people locked up and locked out by chains of our own making. It’s not just about prison cells. But also sweat shops. Brothels. Flop houses. Tractor trailers. Cabarets. Chat rooms. I wear this uniform because of my own choices, my own hypocrisy and complicity, my own brokenness and despair. I am the problem. Not the women and children of poverty who sell their bodies to survive. Me. You. We. All of us who have been asleep, comfortable in our own isolated and insulated beds, while billions of people across our world have been sold, trafficked, and commodified. Human beings. Commodities. In fact, I have heard it suggested that human beings may be one of the top 5 traded commodities in the world economy. Human beings. These are chains of our own making. But we don’t see the shackling because we are blinded by our accepted ignorance. We must speak truth. Open our eyes. The buying and selling of human beings is right in front of us.
Recently, here locally a prostitution ring was discovered by authorities. A house in a central location in our city served as a brothel, servicing Johns 24 hours a day from Friday through Sunday. On the first floor, you could buy the use of the bodies of 12-14 year old girls. The second floor was where you would find satisfaction with 15-17 year old girls. Another situation found 3 of our local girls between the ages of 10 and 14 trapped in a string of alleged gang initiation-related child sexual assaults. Daughters. Sisters. Neighbors. Friends of your children. Their classmates. And these girls were enticed with the promise of new shoes and a new purse, or a place to be wanted, no matter how misguided this may seem to us. This happens. In our own backyards. And when we actually care enough to bust many of these sex transactions, women most often get thrown in jail while the Johns get slapped on the wrists.
We have bought the poor with dollars and the needy for a pair of shoes…
Yesterday in our staff meeting at the faith-based nonprofit where I work, two staff members shared some of the harsh realities that our community is facing. Independently, in a way they both centered their request for prayer and action on abuse. Sex abuse. Physical abuse. Drug abuse. But it all came back to how we as a society make human beings, especially women and children, commodities. Goods to be used for our own pleasure or comfort. How we turn a blind’s eye to the devastating realities happening all around us. It was a cry from the depths for all of us to wake up, wipe the sleep from our eyes, and put our love into action. Urban boys dealing with the traumas of physical and sexual and mental and emotional abuse runs rampant. Families and communities are too ashamed to speak up or seek help. Women and children and immigrants are being bought and sold like candy in a store. Designer drugs are sometimes the only way to numb the pain. The stresses of high-stakes testing in our schools leads kids to harmful attempts at escape. And the vultures are waiting. While we turn over in our cozy beds and fluff our pillows…
Poverty. Sex. Abuse. Money. Money. Money. It all goes together. We must wake from our slumber. For the sake of our sons and daughters.
Below are some great resources, some food to chew on slowly and intentionally, surrounding these issues of sex and poverty and abuse. Knowledge is power. Now, let’s act. Act courageously and compassionately. Make ourselves proximate to the broken and abused.
Half the Sky, with Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Sex+Money: A National Search for Human Worth is a documentary about domestic minor sex trafficking and the modern-day abolitionist movement fighting to stop it. Since September 2009, the crew has traveled to over 30 states and conducted more than 75 interviews with federal agents, victims, politicians, activists, psychologists, porn-stars, among others.
More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing, by Amartya Sen
160 Million and Counting, by Ross Douthat