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Growing awareness and support against trafficking

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In 1891 famous British abolitionist, Josephine Butler, co-opted two Americans– Dr. Katharine Bushnell and Mrs. Elizabeth Andrew– to secretly enter British cantonments in India to find proof that the military were illegally enticing and “examining” Indian girls in Locke Hospitals for the pleasure of British soldiers. Two women standing up to the entire British Raj!
(Watch for more information about Kate’s fictionalized story under “My Books.”)
Times have changed– many are banding together against this plague. But sadly the numbers of slaves continues to grow. Hopefully our government will recognize the seriousness of modern-day trafficking and take action recommended below:

On June 25, 2013 members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, including National Association of Evangeliclas President Leith Anderson, wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Senate and House leadership encouraging support for legislation that would upgrade the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

The letter closed saying “We respectfully urge you to take any action in your authority to elevate the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to a State Department Bureau.”

Twenty-four current leaders of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships signed the letter representing a broad spectrum of faith-based initiatives.

Women denigrated

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ATTITUDES ABOUT WOMEN RESULT NOT ONLY IN TRAFFICKING BUT IN RAPE. CHURCH LEADERS IN INDIA ARE BEING CHALLENGED TO RECOGNIZE THIS AND TO SPEAK TO TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE

India (MNN) — India has witnessed a huge economic boom and is going through a rapid modernization process.

In the flux that follows change like this, there’s upheaval while a new social order emerges. Asian Access India Director David Dayalan explains, “If you look at India, traditionally, we’ve been a patriarchal society where the role of women has been more of a secondary kind of role to support the husband and take care of the kids.” Now, he goes on to say, “We’ve seen women being empowered; we’ve seen, also, there is this crime against women which has been ever increasing in the recent past.”

As millions of men and women have migrated from villages and small towns to big cities, women are now educated, and they work. While the old order of society continues to slowly fade away, there is resistance, resentment, and sometimes violent reaction. “In a patriarchal society, a man always thought he was the head. Suddenly, to see women liberated and women up there challenging them for the jobs–probably another way of getting back at them: it’s a way of asserting his authority.”

Since last year, it seems India’s headlines regularly feature stories of gang rape, acid attacks, or immolation. One notorious case last year resulted in expanding the sexual harassment laws to protect the victims and punish the perpetrators. The issue of violent crime against women then became a political hot-button, and lawmakers hurried to show they were taking a stand on violent crime against women.

But it seems, in practice, little has changed.

The latest rape cases involving two foreign women in India last week have cast the country’s record on sexual violence back into the spotlight. Violence against women is entrenched.

Dayalan says A2 is preparing pastors to deal with the challenges facing Indian society. “As a church, how do we respond to our society and the evil of the crime against women? First and foremost, we teach them to recognize women as co-heirs, equal in the sight of God and creation.”

Transformation–in a church, a neighborhood, a city, a nation–always begins with transformation in the lives of individuals and then moves outward. Dayalan explains, “It starts there. The church models that, starting from pastors who treat women as equals, and at the same time, they teach their congregations.”

Since broader change ignites from the transformation of the individual leader, that’s where A2 focuses its energies. That’s brought noticeable change, Dayalan adds. “The church has been very responsive. If there is one place you see in India where women have a greater degree of dignity and identity, you’ll see it in the church.”

As the Church gears up to respond to new challenges of an emerging India, Dayalan says they’re challenging leaders to do more than think differently. There’s also the challenge to action. “I think the church needs to be a lot more vocal. The church kept very silent, whereas people in the streets came out and added their voices. But unfortunately, the church and the leadership really didn’t speak out.”

While in the throes of growth, this is the time they need the support of the broader body of Christ, notes Dayalan. “In terms of politically, to raise up your voice as a unified Church, to talk about the crime against women: we still have a long way to go. We would really appreciate your prayers on that.”
Adapted from article in Mission Network News by Ruth Kramer, Jan. 20,2014

Mandela

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The world is enthralled with Madibe’s story. Why? Because he was a man of integrity who did what was right, no matter what the cost.

There are far too few of these in the world today.

It cost him is wife, his children, his home, his health — and 27 years of imprisonment.

Several years ago I visited Robben Island, and saw the cell — the tiny cubicle which must have been fiercely cold in winter with cement floor, stone walls and the cold wind blowing off the ocean and beastly hot under the summer’s burning sun. What was he fighting for? Why did he give up everything?

You would have to be an African living under apartheid to know the abuse, the degradation, the insults, the job limitations, minimal education, — the feeling of being a nobody.

My husband and I worked for 22 years in South Africa with young people in Soweto. We saw them open up into confident young people as they realized they were created in the image of God — black, white, male female– all in the image of God with the great potential to use the gifts God had given them.

You can’t imagine how thrilled I was to meet with some of those young people last year. To see them holding responsible positions in society, living in comfortable homes, having their children quality schools with libraries and science labs. Many were serving as pastors or obeying Christ’s command to care for the poor.

I’m sure their tears today are filled with pride and gratitude. I pray that Mandela’s model will touch many hearts to follow his example– to bring integrity back into every part of South African life. My prayers are with them.

My novel The Soweto Legacy portrayed how apartheid denigrated life for both whites and black. It tells of a forbidden love between a white university student and a black young woman. It’s available on Kindle, and sometimes you can purchase a softcover for a few cents on Amazon.com

The Plight of Women in India is Never Ending

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This week I’m writing about Katharine Bushnell’s first contacts with the hapless young women held in the British chakla (military brothel) in 1892. I’m surrounded by articles, books, notes I’ve taken—until I feel immersed in that culture over almost 125 years ago. But. . .

The plight of women in India is never ending

Hear the story of the wife of one of the men sentenced to hang for being one of the four rapists that so damaged a young university student, she died several days later. The story has shocked India, and it seems the courts have finally seen that justice will be done.

But Punita Devi may die too. Not that she’s done anything wrong. But she’s the wife of a murderer and no one in her village or family will take her and her two year old boy in. It isn’t because of the murder; it’s because they claim they can’t afford her. The in-laws don’t want her now that their rapist son is out of work and can’t send money to cover the family’s expenses. Her own family doesn’t want her back because they are already trying to feed too many people from the small income on their one-acre holding. After-all, that’s why they married her off, and sent her with a dowry – a bed and some kitchen utensils.

Punita has had no education. She was taken out of school as a young girl to help in the home since her mother was ill. And even if she were educated, the traditions would not allow her to work outside the home. Her mother-in-law bluntly states, “In our family women die at home. They never venture outside.” The customs of purdah practiced in the region make it almost impossible for her to work outside the home.

So will Punita and her son pay the price for her husband’s crime? Where will she go for help? Oh yes, her last name, Devi, means “goddess.”

Information condensed from a full-page article in The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, September 24,1013, A16

Where foot binding works!

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Boundless, the fascinating life of Dr. Katharine Bushnell, who exposed and fought sexual trafficking in the 19th century, begins in China.  Kate was horrified at the inhumane  and brutal mangling of little girls’ feet, broken and bound up to never grow beyond three inches in length.  This began Kate’s lifelong passion to see women respected and freed to their full potential, unbound by tradition and free to serve God.

 

This little uTube turns  the story around, to show how thousands of children around the world born with club feet, can be freed to live their full potential—by binding their feet.

 

This is a short promo piece by an NGO, but the pictures of change are amazing. Facilitators have made corrections in more than 27 countries!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSivYVkRWK0&feature=youtu.be

 

And watch for my forthcoming novel, Boundless, based on a true story, full of drama, danger, romance  and adventure.

 

Trafficking is big business

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Boundless, Book one of my two part series about Dr. Katharine Bushnell, is at the editor.  I’m starting book two and working through hundreds of pages of research which I’ve done over the last six years.  Reading Katharine’s report about young girls of fourteen or sixteen forced to live in the chaklas—brothels inside the British military bases in India in the eighteen hundreds, is just as heart-wrenching as modern stories of such abuse.  It’s encouraging today  that many organizations are trying to help these girls – the public is aware,  though not enough really care.

Katharine and her colleague were sent to India ALONE to expose the military’s nefarious practices. She made a difference—but it never ends.  Read the uplifting story of something happening in India today.

Trafficking is big business

Traffickers target poor families.  They say they have contacts to get their daughter a job.  The unsuspecting girl is taken to the city where she doesn’t’ realize what is about to happen until it’s too late.  She is sold to a brother for about $1000 . She is kept there under guard.

The girls have as many as 20 customers per night.  Each pays about 500 rupees of less (just $10).  Eventually the girls lose all hope.  They think that this is how it’s going to be forever.  They don’t feel they can go back to their home village with the stigma of what they have done.  Those trafficked at young ages often don’t even know where their home village is located.

Several of our partners have “after-care homes,” safe places where rescued girls are taken.  As I talked with the girls, the difference the center makes was so obvious—it was like night and day.  Those recently rescued were sullen, staying at the edges of the room, not saying a word.  Those who had been in the home for a while were talkative. . .  like you would expect a teenage girl to be.  But, it took months, sometimes years, of loving care to bring them to that place. There is nothing easy about this kind of work.

                                                                           Bob Savage,

                                                                           Partners International

                                                                           WWW.PARTNERSINTL.ORG

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.

 

 

 

 

The Greatest Social Failure of our Era

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The Greatest Social Failure of Our Era

As I write Boundless I am more aware that the problem of the treatment of women reaches far back into history and across the globe.  But it seems everywhere today there is a growing consciousness of this evil.  Below is an interesting commentary from the Denver Post by David Rathkopf .

            The larger looming story is our continuing failure to protect women of their rights.  The U. S. in particular is going to face some very difficult choices in the years ahead on this point.,  Are we so eager for closure in Afghanistan or stability elsewhere that we are compliant with putting in power regimes that will continue to suppress the majority population, deny them education, deny them protection under the law, allow them to be abused under the protection of barbarous and indefensible “cultural tradition?”  Will countries like India continue their tradition of failing to enforce the law against rapists who prey on their women, as in the case of December’s horrifying Delhi gang rape?  Will the gunmen who targeted Malala in Pakistan continue to seek to intimidate those who emulate the    courageous schoolgirl?

 

            My fear is that the answer will be “yes” and that in the year ahead we will see even the worlds’ most progressive and enlightened powers continue to feed the greatest global social failure of our age, by looking away and accepting the unacceptable.  Davbid Rathkopf

How can we fail to remember how much Jesus cared for the spiritual and physical welfare of women.  How we forget his tender concern for Mary Magdalene at the tomb?  Woman, why are you crying?

 

Trafficking in LA

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It’s been some time since I’ve posted on this blog.  I’m shifting from focusing primarily on South Africa to the book I’ve been writing for some time.  Tentatively named Boundless it tells the fictionalized story of Dr. Katharine Bushnell, a nineteenth century activist who exposed sexual trafficking and faced personal danger as she rescued women who were bound.

Here’s a quote from EXODUS NOW which works with women and girls trafficked in our own country. The EXODUS team worked the streets of the French quarter where many prostitutes and trafficked women were brought during Super Bowl.

“On Super Bowl Sunday, we rejoiced to read a powerful testimony, on Feb. 1st, given by a woman who had formerly been trafficked for sex during such an event 2.  Her story is eye-opening, ringing as a public alarm on sex trafficking during the Super Bowl. The next day, we had the privilege of meeting with a woman who was a survivor herself. She boldly made the decision to flee a life of sexual exploitation and began a new life working to restore women and even do outreach in the same strip club she had been working at.

“God showed me that I was chained—and the chains were all just lies of the enemy,” she explained,“…But I had the key all along—it was Jesus. It’s like there was a key hole with light leaking through, and I just had to follow that light.”

Her words were full of praise and love for the One who had forgiven her and set her free. She laughed and cried as she told us of her family, her past struggles, and her future ambitions. She is a woman who holds prayer and love as the first weapons in her artillery and explained that it was only through them that her escape was possible.

On the final night before our departure back to Kansas City, we carried out our last outreach to the same strip clubs on Bourbon St. This time, it was pouring rain outside, and the street was much emptier as the Super Bowl crowd had departed.  With the decrease in customers and chaos, both the bouncers and the women in the clubs opened their hearts to our team. Tears were shed as some of the women shared about their difficulties and at one point, half of us were praying for a bouncer outside one of the clubs, while the other half of the team was praying for a woman inside.”