Monthly Archives: May 2013

Trafficking denied in 19th century

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When Dr. Kate Bushnell started helping prostitutes in Denver, later Chicago, and then discovered girls caught in “white slavery” society denied her findings.  In the Victorian era even mentioning the word “prostitute” was offensive.

Now 100 years later it’s still happening–in far greater numbers, and we don’t seem to be shocked anymore.

Here’s a report from some Jordanian friends who’ve been trying to help in the camps where thousands of Syrians have fled the war in their homeland.  They’ve been trying to provide food and water to refugees living in camps on dry, barren land.  UNICEF has recently told them they can no longer provide water since they have run out of money.  This camp has now grown to 150,000 people. So, desperate families resort to desperate measures.  Read on:

Another form of chaos that has begun to build up is the “business” of selling Syrian women (primarily the younger, paler ones with green or blue eyes) to older men (50-80 year old) in Jordan. It’s hard to imagine a family letting go of their daughter to a stranger for money but desperate times will call for desperate measures…measures that we will probably never understand or comprehend. In a recent news report, a family in dire need of milk to feed their hungry infant had no choice but to sacrifice their teenage daughter to marriage for a dowry. What was even more shocking was that the help was provided by a local  NGO based  in Jordan that is setup to provide food, cash and medicine – not husbands! The director of this NGO offered to help find their daughter a suitable husband for money. The mother of this child would have never considered such a random arrangement before in Syria, but life in Jordan has become so unbearable that the sacrifice of her teenage daughter had to be made. How else would this family be able to pay for rent and milk for their starving baby?

Another story tells about a 19 year old who was given over to a young, Jordanian man in exchange for a dowry. Soon after her family returned to Syria, the man took his new bride to a brothel to make money off of her as a prostitute. 

Dr. Kate Bushnell discovered similar desperation over one hundred years ago as she exposed white slavery in dens in northern Wisconsin, “chaklas” for British soldiers during the Indian Raj, and drug houses in San Francisco and Hong Kong.

I’ve completed Boundless, the first of two books on Kate’s life—a woman of valor, perseverance, and boundless love for God and His abused daughters.  She fought the battle singlehanded in a Victorian culture which denied such abuse existed.  Even though we know the existence of wide-spread trafficking, we seem helpless to limit, much less eradicate the crime. Is it that we don’t really care?

It’s in our backyard

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That’s what shocked Dr. Katharine (Kate) Bushnell in the nineteenth century.  Authorities wouldn’t believe her stories of girls enticed, held captive, and abused in the pristine forests of northern Wisconsin. And today we’re hearnig such a story right in a Cleveland neighborhood- three girls held captive for ten years and no one knew?

For the last five years — off and on– I’ve been writing Kate’s story. A valiant, fearless, unconventional woman living in the Victorian era, it was a lot more difficult for Kate to talk about prostitution, rape, brothels, bondage then than it is in today’s far too open society. The pendulum swings from one side to the other. As the first book Boundless reaches completion, I’ll be writing more about what I’ve found — not only what’s happening today, but how society dealt with “trafficking” more than one hundred years ago.

Share your thoughts and stories.  It’s not a pleasant subject, but it is among us, and I believe God cares about those who are caught in this desperate quickisand.