We are currently featuring guest posts from a several of the women who are leading breakout sessions at WHOLE.
Today’s post is from Blaire Pilkington, Director Of Intervention at Exodus Cry. She is leading the breakout session called “Sex Trafficking: The Battlefront of the 21st Century” at WHOLE. Don’t miss Exodus Cry’s hard-hitting documentary Nefarious: Merchant of Souls at WHOLE: After Hours following the main session August 24.
While Blaire hasn’t personally experienced what it is like to be trafficked, she has vast knowledge and experience in working with women who have been. You will learn a lot from her!
– – – –
Breakout: Sex Trafficking: The Battlefront of the 21st Century
Leader: Blaire Pilkington
When people first learn about the horrors of human trafficking and the modern day sex trade they are shocked, horrified, grieved and angry. As they face the reality that slavery is anything but history- they begin to ask, how can this injustice be happening in our modern day society? What can I possibly do in the face of such a wicked system of injustice?
I was 19 years old when I was first confronted with the shock of sex trafficking. At the time I was serving in impoverished areas of Cambodia with Youth With A Mission. Everywhere I went in this small nation, injustice seemed to thrive; but one of the darkest manifestations came from a thriving sex trade just under the surface. While there I witnessed older western men fondling teenage Cambodian girls on the beach, girls lined up outside of dingy store-fronts illuminated by the pinkish glow of the red-light behind them, and young prostituted girls waiting in line for STI checks at a clinic. These instances and many more are seared upon my memory and greatly shaped the course my life would take to one day work full-time to help these girls come out of the dark existence that is prostitution. Upon returning to the states and heading to college I began to research and read every book I could get my hands on related to this growing epidemic called human trafficking. What I would soon discover was that this issue wasn’t limited to tiny Cambodia, and was in fact, was a global billion-dollar industry effecting every nation in the earth. After graduating university several years later, I found myself working with a new organization called Exodus Cry and giving my life in a greater way to the Lord and to serving His heart for the ending of sex trafficking in our day.
Ten years ago trafficking was a little-known reality, yet in a short time this global injustice has been thrust into the lime-light in such a significant way that can only be an answer to the prayers of those who have contended for the light of Christ to expose this hidden crime.
In reality many women and children across the earth are recruited and forced into lifestyles of systematic rape and abuse called prostitution, this truth is beginning to be understood to a greater degree. Old cliché’s about prostitution being “the oldest profession in the world” are being undeniably refuted as many begin to understand that prostitution is one of the oldest oppressions in the earth, and that trafficking in persons is largely for the purposes of sex.
My own journey has led me to some of the darkest places in the earth where these women and children are sold to the highest bidder, from Tel Aviv to Rio De Janeiro, Amsterdam to South Africa, their stories aren’t all the same. Yet most have a background of sexual abuse as children that left them vulnerable to the recruitment strategies of those who exploit. Before they knew it, they were drawn in or simply taken into the underworld of forced prostitution where they are taught what they must do to survive. . A Canadian study revealed that women in prostitution have a mortality rate 40 times higher than the national average. The life of girls forced into prostitution is not one of choice, as its advocates claim; but rather a lack of choices that leads to destruction. With few options for escape many lose hope and give up on their freedom, accepting prostitution as their fate.
As Christ is in us, and His light emanates from us, we have the incredibly unique opportunity to walk into the dark places where exploitation occurs and bring the Light of Christ with us. To visit these ones in the place of their trouble with a message that transcends the darkness of their circumstances. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome. John 1:5 That light in us is like the striking of a match in a dark cave, a ray of hope, a flash of light that points to the way out. There is a way of escape for girls trapped in the cycle of exploitation, and His name is Jesus, His love knows no limits and is able to pierce even the hardest heart, heal the most broken.
For love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave, its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can floods drown it. Song of Songs 8:6-7