Posts Tagged ‘women’

Did you know there are over 30 Million slaves in the world today?  That’s more than any other point in history.  Just think about that for a moment.  In this modern era, and in your generation, there are more people being forced to work against their will than ever before.  How can this be?  We’ve progressed as a society in so many ways… but there are still millions who are being worked, imprisoned, abused, and beaten in some of the most horrible conditions possible.

Human trafficking goes beyond all racial backgrounds and national borders.  Traffickers don’t target any specific group of people, they just look where they can make the most money.  Read more about that here, or look at a map.  No country is unaffected by human trafficking.   This problem takes many forms around the world:  forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting individuals to slavery or involuntary servitude, the use of people to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography, misleading workers into debt bondage, and more.

According to the U.S. State Department, 800,000 people are trafficked every year.  And approximately 1 million children enter the commercial sex-trade annually.   Every year, an average 17,500 are trafficked into the United States.  Some estimates say that there are approximately 100,000 – 150,000 slaves in the U.S. right now…. but “fewer than 1,000 victims have been assisted through the efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement since 2001, when services for trafficking victims were first made available.”  I don’t know about you, but that’s unacceptable to me.

In doing the research for this post, I came across these facts, and must share them with you.  There are even more at the website, and it also lists their sources.  Please be aware, some of these statistics may be disturbing or offensive.

  • Approximately 75-80% of human trafficking is for sex.
  • Researchers note that sex trafficking plays a major role in the spread of HIV.
  • There are an estimated 27 million adults and 13 million children around the world who are victims of human trafficking.
  • Human trafficking not only involves sex and labor, but people are also trafficked for organ harvesting.
  • Human traffickers often use a Sudanese phrase “use a slave to catch slaves,” meaning traffickers send “broken-in girls” to recruit younger girls into the sex trade. Sex traffickers often train girls themselves, raping them and teaching them sex acts.
  • Eighty percent of North Koreans who escape into China are women. Nine out of 10 of those women become victims of human trafficking, often for sex. If the women complain, they are deported back to North Korea, where they are thrown into gulags or are executed.
  • An estimated 30,000 victims of sex trafficking die each year from abuse, disease, torture, and neglect. Eighty percent of those sold into sexual slavery are under 24, and some are as young as six years old.
  • Ludwig “Tarzan” Fainberg, a convicted trafficker, said, “You can buy a woman for $10,000 and make your money back in a week if she is pretty and young. Then everything else is profit.”
  • H human trafficker can earn 20 times what he or she paid for a girl. Provided the girl was not physically brutalized to the point of ruining her beauty, the pimp could sell her again for a greater price because he had trained her and broken her spirit, which saves future buyers the hassle. A 2003 study in the Netherlands found that, on average, a single sex slave earned her pimp at least $250,000 a year.
  • Although human trafficking is often a hidden crime and accurate statistics are difficult to obtain, researchers estimate that more than 80% of trafficking victims are female. Over 50% of human trafficking victims are children.
  • The end of the Cold War has resulted in the growth of regional conflicts and the decline of borders. Many rebel groups turn to human trafficking to fund military actions and garner soldiers.
  • According to a 2009 Washington Times article, the Taliban buys children as young as seven years old to act as suicide bombers. The price for child suicide bombers is between $7,000-$14,000.
  • UNICEF estimates that 300,000 children younger than 18 are currently trafficked to serve in armed conflicts worldwide.
  • Human traffickers are increasingly trafficking pregnant women for their newborns.  Babies are sold on the black market, where the profit is divided between the traffickers, doctors, lawyers, border officials, and others. The mother is usually paid less than what is promised her, citing the cost of travel and creating false documents. A mother might receive as little as a few hundred dollars for her baby.
  • More than 30% of all trafficking cases in 2007-2008 involved children being sold into the sex industry.
  • The Western presence in Kosovo, such as NATO troops and civilians, have fueled the rapid growth of sex trafficking and forced prostitution. Amnesty International has reported that NATO soldiers, UN police, and Western aid workers “operated with near impunity in exploiting the victims of the sex traffickers.”
  • Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” video is about human trafficking. In the video, Gaga is trafficked by a Russian bathhouse into sex slavery.
  • Human trafficking is the only area of transnational crime in which women are significantly represented—as victims, as perpetrators, and as activists fighting this crime.
  • Over 71% of trafficked children show suicidal tendencies.
  • After sex, the most common form of human trafficking is forced labor. Researchers argue that as the economic crisis deepens, the number of people trafficked for forced labor will increase.
  • Most human trafficking in the United States occurs in New York, California, and Florida.
  • According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), over the past 30 years, over 30 million children have been sexually exploited through human trafficking.
  • Several countries rank high as source countries for human trafficking, including Belarus, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Albania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, China, Thailand, and Nigeria.
  • Belgium, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey, and the U.S. are ranked very high as destination countries of trafficked victims.
  • Women are trafficked to the U.S. largely to work in the sex industry (including strip clubs, peep and touch shows, massage parlors that offer sexual services, and prostitution). They are also trafficked to work in sweatshops, domestic servitude, and agricultural work.
  • Sex traffickers use a variety of ways to “condition” their victims, including subjecting them to starvation, rape, gang rape, physical abuse, beating, confinement, threats of violence toward the victim and victim’s family, forced drug use, and shame.
  • Family members will often sell children and other family members into slavery; the younger the victim, the more money the trafficker receives. For example, a 10-year-old named Gita was sold into a brothel by her aunt. The now 22-year-old recalls that when she refused to work, the older girls held her down and stuck a piece of cloth in her mouth so no one would hear her scream as she was raped by a customer. She would later contract HIV.
  • Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises because it holds relatively low risk with high profit potential. Criminal organizations are increasingly attracted to human trafficking because, unlike drugs, humans can be sold repeatedly.
  • Human trafficking is estimated to surpass the drug trade in less than five years.  Journalist Victor Malarek reports that it is primarily men who are driving human trafficking, specifically trafficking for sex.
  • Victims of human trafficking suffer devastating physical and psychological harm. However, due to language barriers, lack of knowledge about available services, and the frequency with which traffickers move victims, human trafficking victims and their perpetrators are difficult to catch.
  • Human trafficking around the globe is estimated to generate a profit of anywhere from $9 billion to $31.6 billion. Half of these profits are made in industrialized countries.
  • Some human traffickers recruit handicapped young girls, such as those suffering from Down Syndrome, into the sex industry.
  • Human trafficking is a global phenomenon that is fueled by poverty and gender discrimination.
  • Human traffickers often work with corrupt government officials to obtain travel documents and seize passports.
  • Women and girls from racial minorities in the U.S. are disproportionately recruited by sex traffickers in the U.S.
  • The Sunday Telegraph in the U.K. reports that hundreds of children as young as six are brought to the U.K. as slaves each year.
  • Japan is a major hub of sex trafficking.
  • Japan is considered the largest market for Asian women trafficked for sex.
  • Airports are often used by human traffickers to hold “slave auctions,” where women and children are sold into prostitution.
  • Due to globalization, every continent of the world has been involved in human trafficking, including a country as small as Iceland.
  • Many times, if a sex slave is arrested, she is imprisoned while her trafficker is able to buy his way out of trouble.
  • Today, slaves are cheaper than they have ever been in history. The population explosion has created a great supply of workers, and globalization has created people who are vulnerable and easily enslaved.
  • Human trafficking and smuggling are similar but not interchangeable. Smuggling is transportation based. Trafficking is exploitation based.
  • Sex traffickers often recruit children because not only are children are more unsuspecting and vulnerable than adults, but there is also a high market demand for young victims. Traffickers target victims on the telephone, on the Internet, through friends, at the mall, and in after-school programs.
  • Human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and in some U.S. territories.
  • The FBI estimates that over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America today. They range in age from 9 to 19, with the average being age 11. Many victims are not just runaways or abandoned, but are from “good” families who are coerced by clever traffickers.
  • Brazil and Thailand are generally considered to have the worst child sex trafficking records.
  • The AIDS epidemic in Africa has left many children orphaned, making them especially vulnerable to human trafficking.
  • Nearly 7,000 Nepali girls as young as nine years old are sold every year into India’s red-light district—or 200,000 in the last decade. Ten thousand children between the ages of six and 14 are in Sri Lanka brothels.
  • Human trafficking victims face physical risks, such as drug and alcohol addiction, contracting STDs, sterility, miscarriages, forced abortions, vaginal and anal trauma, among others. Psychological effects include developing clinical depression, personality and dissociative disorders, suicidal tendencies, Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
  • The largest human trafficking case in recent U.S. history occurred in Hawaii in 2010. Global Horizons Manpower, Inc., a labor-recruiting company, bought 400 immigrants in 2004 from Thailand to work on farms in Hawaii. They were lured with false promises of high-paying farm work, but instead their passports were taken away and they were held in forced servitude until they were rescued in 2010.
  • According to the U.S. State Department, human trafficking is one of the greatest human rights challenges of this century, both in the United States and around the world.

Another issue that doesn’t receive much national attention, is the fact that pirated movies and music frequently help pay traffickers.  “…the cash they pay lines the pockets of serious, organised criminals, who use the profits from film piracy to fuel their trade in human traffic, hard drugs or even terrorism.”   I’m sure that speaks to all of us in an alarming way.  Maybe you’ve never intentionally purchased a pirated movie or song, but every time you download that “free file share,” there’s a chance it helped a trafficker.  A very small chance perhaps, but not one I’d be willing to live with.  Have you ever considered why that song was free?  I guarantee you it’s not out of the goodness of someone’s heart who pines at the thought of teenagers not being able to freely listen to their favorite artists.  Those websites have sponsors, and they have advertisers, and the more website hits there are, the more money there is to be made.  It makes sense when you realize that many “free music” websites have banner ads or pop-up windows that show soft porn, hoping you’ll click on the link to go to their site.   So even though you never purchased something pirated, you did help support it, and doing so, you helped support sex trafficking…. that makes you think, doesn’t it?

On the subject of pornography, if you purchase, or view freely online any form of porn, you are either directly or indirectly supporting this horrible industry.  You may think that all the women, men, and children in the images are doing it at their own free will, but you would be mistaken.  It’s true that some people make this their “profession,” but most (if not all) are doing it out of desperation, hopelessness, the need for attention, or because of trafficking.   So, just like piracy, even if you never paid to view those images, you did visit the website, and that makes money for advertisers and those in the sex-trade industry.   The same is true with drugs.  If you’ve purchased or used illegal or street drugs of any kind, you very likely helped support human trafficking.  Nothing we do impacts only ourselves, everything we do has consequences on others in some way, either in direct affect, or through our witness.

After reading all of these facts, maybe you’re a bit overwhelmed.
Maybe this is a problem that is bigger than you realized.  You’re probably asking, what can be done to stop this?  What can I do?  There are many organizations that are taking action against trafficking.  The International Justice Missionthe Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Not For Sale Campaign, the Polaris Project, NightLight International, and many others are fighting for the rights of slaves around the world.  The actions of IJM and others perform strategic operations that break up underground trafficking syndicates.   Many stories can be read on the IJM website and others about individuals who have been saved from a life of abuse and forced labor.  Ministries like NightLight are providing rescued women a chance to make a living by teaching them how to make and sell their own jewelry.  The picture to the right is a bracelet I purchased last semester from NightLight.  It was hand-made by a woman who was forced into the sex-trade industry, but now is making jewelry and selling it to support her family.   She and many other women are finding hope and a sense of worth because they are no longer treated as chattel, but like the beautiful children of God that they are.

One step you can make right now to Lift Your Voice on this issue is to sign the petition on the IJM website.   Join the other thousands who are speaking out.  Ask President Obama to take a major stand on this issue.  Together we can help stop human trafficking.  We can spread the awareness of the seriousness of this issue.  We can take a stand against the other illegal activities that promote trafficking (like piracy, porn, and drugs).  And we can lift our voices in unison and declare that we value the lives of all people.  We value their rights because we know Who they were created by.  Whether they know it or not, each one of these victims is in the image of the living God Who came to save all humanity.  We must raise our voices and tell the world that because of Him, we cannot stand idly by and allow innocent lives to be destroyed in this way.   Together we can make a difference.  But your voice must join in.  Will you Lift Your Voice?

Abortion

Posted: January 15, 2012 by andreacaresse in Abortion/Sanctity of Life
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Before I begin, let me first say, if you are reading this article and you have already experienced the pain of an abortion and are seeking forgiveness from that… know that God forgives you!  It is not too late to seek His forgiveness.  All sin is equal in the sight of God.  He does not hate you, but loves you and knows you are hurting.  Forgiveness and comfort can be found only through Him, so be assured of His love for you… you may have a past, but you are precious in His sight, and that past can be wiped clean with faith in Jesus Christ.   In fact, if you are a woman struggling with this, please email me (acmb.galatians220@gmail.com)  I would love to talk with you.  But if you are someone who doesn’t know much about the issue of abortion, and is wanting to hear what some real facts are, then this post is for you.

If you know me personally, you know I have very strong feelings regarding this topic.  What many may not know is that I wasn’t always so opinionated on the issue.   To be honest, like many young people, I didn’t really concern myself with such heavy topics, but just had a general opinion as to what was “good and right.”  I knew that generally speaking, abortion was not good, but was unsure in situations like rape, incest, and the woman’s health.  In the last few years, my knowledge on the subject has expanded.  I’ve read God’s Word, talked with professors, read philosophy papers, done research, written reports, and have even created art on the subject.   Now that I have seen all the facts, and know both sides, I have a very strong stand on the issues, even in those situations that seem so grey at times.

In today’s society, abortion is talked about as if it is a woman’s right.  Something that “comes naturally” with being female.  Speaking as a women myself, I can definitely say that abortion is not a right I should possess under any circumstances.  And as to it’s “naturalness,” it is in fact one of the most unnatural concepts related to being female (the sex that is designed specifically for childbearing).  Reading articles like  “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion” by Mary Anne Warren has caused me to despair of many women’s ideas of  “women’s rights.”  (On a purely secular scale, I would question the decision to be pro-abortion simply because I would want to distance myself from such philosophies.)  But what I’ve said so far doesn’t prove anything.. it’s just my opinion.  Now let me talk about facts.

The unborn child inside a woman’s womb is 100% human and %100 separate and distinct from it’s mother.  Biologically speaking, at the very moment of conception, everything needed to create a new human individual is there and life has begun.  There is no one else exactly like this new creation.  Even if this tiny clump of cells were to split and become twins, they would be two entirely different individuals that just happen that share the same DNA.     There is quite a lot of discussion about when an unborn child (fetus, embryo, zygote, clump of cells) becomes a person.  According to a few highly secular philosophies, the concept of personhood doesn’t even begin till many months after the baby has been born! (I reference above mentioned article).  There are those who say that after so many weeks or during a certain trimester, then the fetus is a life, if this is true it would mean that overnight a dead clump of cells became a life!  Now that really would be amazing.   Many argue that an unborn child does not have it’s own identity yet because it cannot survive on its own outside the womb.  Here I make a simple comparison… Can we survive outside the earth?  No.  Are we any less our own identities? No.  Simply because a living thing needs a certain environment to live, does not make it any less an individual life.  The most recent debate however is not whether something is human or alive, but whether it is a person.  This is a very deep philosophical discussion that goes far beyond abortion and stretches into concepts of euthanasia, infanticide, assisted suicide, eugenics, and genocide.   But for the purposes of this discussion, I’m simply going to say that at the moment of conception, absolutely everything is needed to create a full-grown, living adult with purpose and identity.  To explain it another way:  One could define murder as the depriving of another individual a future existence… to take away from them something that belonged to them (their future).  The same is the case with abortion.  The act of killing an unborn child is akin to killing a full-grown adult when looking at it this way.

Beyond the unborn child’s right to a future, there are issues for the woman involved that are largely never discussed.   I’ve seen how abortion not only destroys one life, but also slowly destroys many others (the woman herself, her family, future relationships, etc).  Many women who undergo abortion procedures have long-term psychological and physical side-effects.  The other people involved in the decision-making process during this time also experience their share of post-abortion difficulties.   Studies show that among those who have had an abortion, over 90% experience feelings of guilt.  The same is was said for depression, and a loss of happiness.  Feelings of loneliness, anger, helplessness, self-condemnation, shame, grief, regret, constant stress, withdrawal, suicidal feelings, uncontrollable weeping and more were found in the vast majority of post-abortion women asked.   Beyond the psychological, numerous serious medical conditions are found in women who have had abortions.  She could experience breast cancer, ectopic (tubal) future pregnancy, hemorrhage, infection, cervix injury, future miscarriages, sterilization, and many other serious health problems.  Clearly abortion is something that harms the body both physically and mentally.

So what does the Bible say about abortion?  Well as you can probably guess, “abortion” isn’t found anywhere in the Bible because it is a relatively new word.  (Kind of like how “Bible” isn’t found anywhere either…)  But the Scriptures are filled with passages describing how God is very much aware of the unborn child and how He personally is involved in its development.  Take a look at these passages:

Psalm 139:13-16:  “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”

Jeremiah. 1:4-5:  “The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Psalm 22:9-10: “Yet You brought me out of the womb; You made me trust in You even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon You; from my mother’s womb You have been my God.”

Isaiah 44:2: “This is what the LORD says–He who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you … “

And these are only a few passages that speak of God’s care of the unborn child. (If you’d like to read more, and read what the original Greek meanings of some words mean, click here.)  God valued and approved of the development of the unborn so much, that He even conceived in a virgin named Mary a child, His Son, to be delivered into the world.  If God did not greatly love the concept of a developing baby, He certainly wouldn’t have created this part of the life cycle, or allowed His Son to be developed in the same way.

Which brings me to the reality, that God in His sovereignty, allows some things to happen that we just don’t understand.  On the issues of rape, incest, and other issues discussed in abortion, sometimes we just can’t comprehend why a loving God would allow such things to happen.  But behind every problem in life, God creates marvelous opportunities.  I know stories of women who have been raped, decided to carry the child to term, and then realized that now they were able to minister to many broken women in ways no one else could.  Their children have been blessings to their lives, and when they see their new baby, they don’t see the man who raped them, but a small part of her that has been passed on to a new life.    I know that many still see rape as an excuse for abortion, but if we know that God is aware of all situations, then we have to accept that this new baby created by such harsh circumstances, is a life that God is allowing to come into existence for His purpose.  Like many events in life that we can’t explain at the time, it often takes years to see the why behind the bad things in our lives.

There is also the issue of the rare ectopic (tubal) pregnancy.  Unfortunately,  modern medical techniques have yet to reach the point where we are able to re-implanted the embryo to a proper place in the uterus.  I have been mistaken recently in thinking that this technology was available, but at this point it is still in the research phase.   In these cases in which the embryo begins to develop in the fallopian tube or cervix, instead of the uterus, the only course of action is to end the pregnancy, by either medication or operation.   I don’t think it is right to call these instances “abortion” because it implies an act of choice by the mother.  I think a more fitting definition for this would be a miscarriage.  I only mention this type of pregnancy here because many use tubal pregnancies as a reason for legalizing abortion.   However, this is not an abortion issue at all, but a medical necessity to save the mother’s life.  As Dr. H says, “It comes to a matter of allowing two to die or saving at least one.”   Hopefully medicine will progress quickly, and in the future we will be able to re-implant these types of  pregnancies in their proper place so the baby can grow and develop naturally.  Until then, there is no alternative.  My heart goes out to anyone who has had to deal with this type of miscarriage, either personally or with someone you love.   I can’t imagine it; I know it must be very difficult.  But as I have said, sometimes God allows some things to happen that we just can’t understand.  Realize that in His sovereignty, He always does what is best for us, whether we can see it or not.   Rest in knowing that your baby is already in Heaven, rejoicing and praising God! That goes for every unborn child that has lost their life.   If you are a believer, you can look forward to meeting him or her one day, and spending eternity together.

So in closing, if you were unsure on your stance in the abortion debate, I hope this has helped to inform you of what you may not be hearing from the secular side.  If you are still undecided, I encourage you to investigate this issue further, and I would highly recommend you watch Maatfa 21, it will open your eyes to the origins of Planned Parenthood and the greater issue of why abortion was advocated many years ago.

Again, if you are reading this and you already have had an abortion, or sponsored one, please know that God loves you and accepts you.  If you are not a follower of Christ, that’s the first step you need to take.  Without Jesus in your life, healing will be impossible.   If you are already a follower, but had this moment of weakness, then ask God for forgiveness; He gives it freely.  Then, forgive yourself.  Like all people, you made a mistake, but now you can move on and leave your past.  You will still experience the consequences that resulted from an abortion, but in Christ all things are made new and your past is forgiven! God remembers it no more.  I encourage you to reach out to other believers and find someone you trust to open up to.  It is very hard to deal with our issues if we never discuss them with our fellow believers.  This will be hard, I know.  But it well help you move forward and away from this part of your life.