One part of the Holocaust memorial service, at least here in Houston, is the testimony of Nazi descendants telling the story of what their parents or grandparents did, expressing their repentance, and seeking forgiveness from Holocaust survivors and their descendants.  It is a very powerful moment. It is also one that gets some people a little agitated.  The concept of identificational repentance 1 Croucher, Rowland. Identificational Repentance – Repenting for the Sins of Our Ancestors. John Mark Ministries. 11 December 20013.  Accessed 29 July 2013.  really bothers some Christians who think that since we’re saved by grace that we don’t have to deal with any other baggage.

Not only is the testimony of the Germans one of forgiveness, but their story is also one of how exposing and repenting of those actions not only set them free personally, but it has transformed their city.  (Here is an article on the power of identificational repentance.) 2 Greig, Dr. Gary S. The Biblical Foundations of Identificational Repentace as One Prayer Pattern Useful to Advance God’s Kingdom and Evangelism.  Kingdom Training Network. The King’s Seminary. April 2001.  Accessed 29 July 2013. 

Unclean Hands

So what does this have to do with this book? Our hands aren’t clean. One of the horrors of the Holocaust was not just what the Nazi officials did, but the fact that so few people stood up and said anything.  Not only did they not do anything, but they closed their eyes and ignored what was going on.  They would sit in their churches and sing louder when the trains would roll by so they wouldn’t have to hear the cries of those being taken to the death camps.

Here in the United States, Texas is considered a major destination for victims of human trafficking.  According to statistics, in 208, 38 percent of all calls to the National Trafficking Resource Center hot line were dialed in Texas.  Between 2001 and 2006, the total number of persons prosecuted for human trafficking in the United States tripled.  In the same period, the number of persons prosecuted for sex slavery increased four times. 3 Human Trafficking in Texas: More Resources and Resolve Needed to Stem Surge of Modern Day Slavery. Texas Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.  August 2011.  pg 3. Accessed 29 July 2013. 

That is what is going on today in Houston.

 At the 2006 Department of Justice National Conference on Human Trafficing, the interstate I-10 corridor was identified as one of the main routes for human traffickers.  Two cities along the I-10 corridor figure prominently as centers identified with a particularly high level of human trafficking:  El Paso and Houston. 4 Human Trafficking in Texas: More Resources and Resolve Needed to Stem Surge of Modern Day Slavery. Texas Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.  August 2011. pg 4.  Accessed 29 July 2013. 

If you ask someone to explain what human and sex trafficking is, the odds are that they would describe it as either something happening in another country or rare cases of citizens of foreign countries being brought into the U.S. However, that is not the case.  While the exploitation of individuals in what is essentially slave labor does primarily happen in the U.S. with illegal aliens, sex trafficking is just as likely to happen to girls and women born and raised in the U.S. And just as in Nazi Germany where the labor camps, death camps, and brothels with forced sex slaves were in every town in the country, 5 Lichtblau, Eric. The Holocaust just got more shocking.  The New York Times.  3 March 2013.  Accessed 29 July 2013.    sex trafficking is everywhere.

A perception exists that only foreign nationals are victims of human trafficking in the United States.  Arrest and prosecution records show that to be false; significant incidents of domestic human trafficking occur within Texas in addition to movement of victims through Texas to other states. 6 Human Trafficking in Texas: More Resources and Resolve Needed to Stem Surge of Modern Day Slavery. Texas Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.  August 2011. pg 5. Accessed 29 July 2013. 

Just this week, the FBI executed one of the largest raids on sex trafficking rescuing over 100 children.  Over 260 agencies were involved nationwide, it doesn’t just happen in the big cities.

The FBI launched a 72-hour nationwide operation targeting pimps who prey on children — an undercover mission that rescued 105 teens ranging mostly in age from 13 to 17 years old, with the youngest victim being 9 years old, authorities said Monday. 7 FBI rescues more than 100 children, arrests 150 pimps in sex-trafficking raid. Fox News.  29 July 2013. Accessed 29 July 2013. 

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Renting Lacy Summary

Renting Lacy is a fictional story based on actual experiences that girls and women exploited by sex trafficking experience.  If you read it imagining it happening to a daughter or someone you care about, it is both sickening and frightening.  But I think it is a book that anyone with a daughter, a niece, or has a young girl that they care about should read.  It isn’t just something that happens other places or to other people, it can happen to you.

The main character in the story is Lacy, a prostitute in Vegas.  Manipulated into sex slavery while a preteen, at the opening of the story she is the right hand person for her pimp, Bobby, and his group of women.  She is in the process of helping him break in a new recruit. The story follows the downs, the bottom outs, and the dangers of their lives, the people that try to help them, the men that take advantage of them, and for some, their tragic ending. It is a snapshot of their lives and gives the reader a glimpse of how they got there and what they go through.

The Reality of Sex Trafficking

The movie, Pretty Woman, may have launched Julia Robert’s career, but I think it created a glamorized and distorted view of prostitution.  It’s not that bad for the prostitute, they enjoy it.  The johns aren’t really sleazebags, they mean well.

The first 20 or so times were the hardest.  Then you sort of get used to it and you don’t think as much about it.   – Former child sex trafficking victim from Kansas City, Missouri 8 Smith, Linda and Cindy Coloma. Renting Lacy. 2009. p 4.

The predators, the pimps, prey on girls who have broken relationships with their families.  Girls without a father at home, or who have one that is abusive, are particularly vulnerable.   They set themselves up as the “knight in shining armor,” the one that will take care of them and position themselves as the main influence in their lives.

They encourage division and try to separate the girl from her family. Once the girl is separated from her support system, the abuse, manipulation, and pressure into prostitution begin.  They don’t start out because they say to themselves one day, “Hey I want to be a whore.”  Often they think they are “helping” the one person who “loves” them.

“I met this guy and he said he was going to take care of me.”  – Former child sex trafficking victim from Atlanta, Georgia 9 Smith, Linda and Cindy Coloma. Renting Lacy. 2009. p 55.

Then begins the downward spiral of abuse, shame, and drugs which leaves them feeling so damaged that they feel like they can never fit into normal society again.  There are a completely different set of rules in that world, one that they have to learn in order to survive.   Transitioning out of that can be a long and difficult process.

In Renting Lacy, Star, one of Bobby’s new girls, is rescued by her grandmother who attempts to bring her back home.  Star feels so disconnected from her grandmother and the world she grew up in, that she runs away and rejoins her pimp.

That is another similarity I saw between victims of sex trafficking and those who survived the Holocaust, the abuse that they suffered distorted not only their view on the world making the unable to trust others, but also their view of God.  Reading the story of the lives of those who have experienced sexual abuse, anger at God for allowing it to happen is a very common theme.  The founder of Heaven’s Army of Resources expresses this in the recounting of her experiences and her journey to God. 10 Purvis, Lenora.  “My Story.”  Heaven’s Army of Resources.  Accessed 29, July 2013.  Many of the Holocaust survivors I have heard and have spoken to have said the same thing.  They really don’t want to have anything to do with him. The destruction is on multiple levels.

Making a Change

The attitude of “it’s not my problem” is exactly the one that allows sex trafficking to continue and grow.  It both ignores the victims and gives the perpetrators a pass.

Mary Lee Hafley, who has worked extensively with victims of human trafficking, said that identifying victims is the greatest obstacle to combating trafficking because victims are so isolated “[Victims] are most often found through law enforcement tities and brought to shelters like SafeHaven. Otherwise [victims] do not connect to services because they are so completely isolated. Traffickers threaten them, so that the victims believe the fear of what would happen if they leave is greater than the fear of what happens if they stay.” 11 Human Trafficking in Texas: More Resources and Resolve Needed to Stem Surge of Modern Day Slavery. Texas Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.  August 2011. pg 10.  Accessed 29 July 2013. 

The perpetrators are not only the pimps, but also the johns that purchase the services.  Joking around or dismissing their actions encourages it.

On Monday, a bill was introduced to Congress that would punish those who buy sex rather than punishing victims.

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) along with Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Kay Granger (R-TX) and Rick Nolan (D-MN) introduced the bipartisan and bicameral End Sex Trafficking Act of 2013. This bill will help eliminate human trafficking rings by targeting the criminals who purchase sexual acts from these organizations and ensuring that they are prosecuted as human traffickers. 12 Bipartisan and Bicameral Coalition Introduces Legislation to End Sex Trafficking Demand.  Ted Poe, U.S. Congressman 2nd District of Texas.  24 July 2013. Accessed 29 July 2013. 

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The laws need to focus on punching the perpetrators, but the other part is that we as individuals need to care about and be invested in our community.  The reason so many girls stay trapped is because they are so isolated.  People don’t pay attention and oftentimes don’t even care.

The world’s motto may be “mind your own business,” but as Christians, that isn’t supposed to be ours.

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.  ~ James 1:27 NLT

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. ~ 1 John 4:20 ESV

 

Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve. ~ Proverbs 24:12 NLT

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Resources

Federal

  • FBI Human Trafficking Initiative 13 Civil Rights and Human Trafficking.  Federal Bureau of Investigation. Accessed 29 July 2013. 
  • FBI Human Trafficking Hotline:  1-888-373-7888
  • List of Local FBI Offices
  • Submit information on human trafficking online.
  • FBI Office for Victim Assistance
  • Innocence Lost:  FBI initiative to stop child prostitution
  • FBI Child Trafficking Hotline:  1-800-225-5324

 

Nonprofits and Initiatives

 

References   [ + ]

1. Croucher, Rowland. Identificational Repentance – Repenting for the Sins of Our Ancestors. John Mark Ministries. 11 December 20013.  Accessed 29 July 2013. 
2. Greig, Dr. Gary S. The Biblical Foundations of Identificational Repentace as One Prayer Pattern Useful to Advance God’s Kingdom and Evangelism.  Kingdom Training Network. The King’s Seminary. April 2001.  Accessed 29 July 2013. 
3. Human Trafficking in Texas: More Resources and Resolve Needed to Stem Surge of Modern Day Slavery. Texas Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.  August 2011.  pg 3. Accessed 29 July 2013. 
4. Human Trafficking in Texas: More Resources and Resolve Needed to Stem Surge of Modern Day Slavery. Texas Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.  August 2011. pg 4.  Accessed 29 July 2013. 
5. Lichtblau, Eric. The Holocaust just got more shocking.  The New York Times.  3 March 2013.  Accessed 29 July 2013.  
6. Human Trafficking in Texas: More Resources and Resolve Needed to Stem Surge of Modern Day Slavery. Texas Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.  August 2011. pg 5. Accessed 29 July 2013. 
7. FBI rescues more than 100 children, arrests 150 pimps in sex-trafficking raid. Fox News.  29 July 2013. Accessed 29 July 2013. 
8. Smith, Linda and Cindy Coloma. Renting Lacy. 2009. p 4.
9. Smith, Linda and Cindy Coloma. Renting Lacy. 2009. p 55.
10. Purvis, Lenora.  “My Story.”  Heaven’s Army of Resources.  Accessed 29, July 2013.
11. Human Trafficking in Texas: More Resources and Resolve Needed to Stem Surge of Modern Day Slavery. Texas Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.  August 2011. pg 10.  Accessed 29 July 2013. 
12. Bipartisan and Bicameral Coalition Introduces Legislation to End Sex Trafficking Demand.  Ted Poe, U.S. Congressman 2nd District of Texas.  24 July 2013. Accessed 29 July 2013. 
13. Civil Rights and Human Trafficking.  Federal Bureau of Investigation. Accessed 29 July 2013.