I have written a few stories of actual people who have been trafficked (in both “Look, Listen, Love” and “Laughing in My Dreams”). Those were people that my friend, Clara, the pastor’s wife in Romania told me about. Buck and Nadia work with women in prostitution, and they have been telling me about the women they know.
The first time the issue of human trafficking came to their attention was in the small town three hours from Sofia, where they were pastoring a church. The head of the children’s program at their church came to them with the desire to tell her story. She had gone with a friend to Macedonia because of the promise of a job, and their documents were confiscated and they were told that they would be prostitutes. She was a virgin and lost her virginity to a stranger in his car. Her friend ran away, but was caught, and as the other girls watched, they broke both her legs. Amazingly, the girl did eventually manage to get away, but now, years later, she still struggles with her past.
They said that they tried not to look shocked, but they were. They had never heard of such a thing. But little by little they became aware of the magnitude of the problem. Often, even if the girl manages to get away, the police are reluctant to do anything about the trafficking. The police and local officials are often involved either financially or as non-paying customers. And the girls are mostly foreign and without legal identity documents—they are essentially non-persons. So even non-corrupt police would rather ignore their complaints than get into the massive legal hassles required to help undocumented persons.
When they began working with prostitutes these stories of trafficking became more and more common. One girl told how she had been living with her grandmother and helping her, but she needed to return to her own home about an hour away. She ran into an old friend who invited her to have coffee. Over coffee she told him that she needed to go back to their town, and he offered her a ride. On the way they stopped at a coffee shop, and she didn’t think anything unusual about it except that her brought her a soda that was already opened. Back on the road, she began to feel strange and physically paralyzed. He had slipped her the date rape drug. They went to her house, got her identity card, and he took her to Macedonia. Because of the relaxed borders of the European Union, all he had to do was show both their identity cards to the border guard. Then she saw him receive money for her, and she was put into a brothel and told that this would be her work from now on. She became pregnant in the line of her work and was severely beaten for refusing to have an abortion. Somehow she got away and into a halfway house for girls coming out of prostitution. She said that whenever she looks at her baby, she tries not to remember how he was conceived.
The stories go on and on about husbands who send their wives out to work as prostitutes, and husbands who don’t like for their wives to work as prostitutes, but tolerate it because they like the money. Many of the girls cope by pretending that they are a different person when they are working, and trying not to be present in their bodies during the act. But these are only temporary and imperfect fixes. There is nothing in the world like becoming a truly new creation in Christ Jesus.
No matter where you live, there is human trafficking going on in your country, and probably in your state, and possibly in your own town. Check out the slavery map: http://www.slaverymap.org/.
God is good. God is love. Jesus is the ultimate expression of God’s love for humankind. Love cannot allow this evil and injustice to continue against approximately 30 million people worldwide. Love demands a response. What are you going to do about it?