Category Archives: Slavery

Sex Tourism

Detail from painting at Casa del Centenario, Pompeii (PD)*

The ancient Roman city of Pompeii was known for its hedonism.  Archaeologic evidence has been found of numerous brothels.  Erotic art was common in homes.  Phallic symbols were used all over the city, as signs of fertility and good fortune [1].

This may sound titillating to us.  We have not though progressed far, in the centuries since.  Sex tourism is widely advertised today.  Greece, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia are among the countries that derive income from it [2].

Those who plan their vacations around the sexual activities – legal and illegal – available in foreign countries are unlikely to consider their impact on the local men, women, and children selling their bodies (and souls) to survive. Continue reading

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Shelter

“Unaccompanied minors” at south Texas border, Author US Customs and Border Protection (PD as work product of US Dept. of Homeland Security)

Levian Pacheco of Casa Kokopelli – one of eight federally funded private shelters Southwest Key operates in Arizona – has been accused of sexually molesting at least 8 migrant boys between the ages of 15 and 17 at that facility [1].

Fernando Negrete, also employed by Southwest Key, has meanwhile been charged with groping a 14 year old migrant girl [2].

The Arizona Dept. of Health has cited Casa Kokopelli for failure to complete background checks on employees.  Yet, Southwest Key has received over $1 billion in funds for its shelters.

Police nationwide have responded to hundreds of calls reporting sex crimes against immigrant children held by the government at shelters.

Tragically, this is not the only situation in which illegal immigrants are vulnerable to exploitation.  Fleeing poverty and violence, an estimated 17,000 to 19,000 immigrants are trafficked into the United States each year [3]. Continue reading

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The Rights of a Child

Children being treated by Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets after chemical attack.  Photo courtesy of Associated Press.

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international agreement which lays out the social, economic, cultural, civil, and political rights of children everywhere.  Since its adoption in 1989, the Convention has been signed by 194 countries.  But its interpretation and adherence vary widely across the globe.

Under the Convention, every child – boy or girl – has the right to life and survival; to protection against violence, abuse, and neglect; and to an education.

Right to Life

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb
” (Ps. 139: 13).

The American Convention on Human Rights declares human life as beginning at conception.  Abortion is, however, legal for some 60% of the world’s population.

The United States has performed over 45 million abortions since 1970 [1].

China performs approximately 23 million abortions annually [2].  Although pre-natal sex determination is now illegal there, it is thought that sex-selective abortions (heavily weighted against females) are a key factor in China’s widely disproportionate number of men.

Right to Survival

Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, ‘Talitha, cumi,’ which is translated, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’  Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age” (Mark 5: 41-42).

Over one third of child deaths worldwide are related to malnutrition [3].  Another 2  million children or more die annually of readily preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia.

Protection against Violence

Thus says the LORD:  ‘Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor.  Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place’ “ (Jer. 22: 3).

During the 10 year period from 1986 – 1996, it is estimated that 2 million children were killed; 4-5 million disabled; and 12 million left homeless by war and conflict [4].  As recently as April of this year, Pres. Bashar al-Assad of Syria again killed dozens of his own men, women, and children in a chemical attack [5].

As many as 300,000 youngsters worldwide have been compelled by government or rebel forces to become child soldiers [6].

In the United States, 2710 children were killed by guns between 2014 – 2017 [7].  This ranged from gang violence to school shootings [8A].  Nearly 6000 children are treated for non-fatal gunshot wounds in this country, annually [8B].

Continue reading

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Trafficked, Part 2

Lithograph of Vincent van Gogh's

Lithograph of Vincent van Gogh’s “Sorrow”, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Photographer/Source pic (PD Art-old-100)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Four unnamed women who allege they were forced into prostitution at a Maryland hotel have brought separate suits against the hotel where events took place [1][2].  The plaintiffs maintain that the staff of America’s Best Value Inn either knew or should have known that human trafficking was occurring on the premises.

Money Damages

This is among the first suits where money damages for human trafficking are being sought by victims from a “deep pocket” third party not directly involved with the trafficking.

The suit alleges the hotel failed to keep its premises safe.

The owner disputes this, saying that staff noticed nothing suspicious.  After the prostitution ring was uncovered, hotel procedure was though changed.  Rooms are now cleaned after three days, whether there is a “Do Not Disturb” sign in place or not.

Kidnapped

The women’s story is chilling.  As they describe it, the four were kidnapped; injected with heroin; then forced to engage in sex for money with men brought to the hotel.  All proceeds went to Cornelius Briddell, the head of the trafficking operation.

The women were rescued after one of the victims managed to message her boyfriend on Facebook.  Briddell was convicted in 2015, and sentenced to 145 years in prison.   The judge characterized his actions as barbaric.

Claiming to be a man of God, Briddell actually made a show of “forgiving” his victims. Continue reading

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Trafficked, Part 1

“White Slave” by Abastenia St. Leger Eberle (c. 1913), Source Journal Publication (PD-ArtlOld-100)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The website Backpage.com made tens of millions of dollars running “adult” classified ads for escorts and erotic services (many offering children).  Faced with a Senate investigation, a grand jury inquiry in Arizona, and two federal suits in California, the site removed such ads earlier this year [1A].

That has not stopped the trafficking of children.

Amber Alert

Labels like “Amber Alert” and “Lolita” (intended to signal the involvement of children in sexual activity) may have been replaced with phrases like “100% young” and “oh daddy can I be your candy” [1B].  But ads like those under investigation continue to run in the dating section of the site, as well as elsewhere online.

Children in the Sex Trade

The majority of children involved in the sex trade come from poor and dysfunctional families.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 35% of the underage prostitutes charged nationally are African American.  In some geographic areas, that percentage is even higher.

While it is uncertain how many children are forced into prostitution annually, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates there was an 800% increase between 2010 -2015 due to the increased sale of children for sex online.

Missing

“Scared and cold,
first night on the streets
Your body hurts
from your head to your feet…

Gotta dollar-fifty,
every penny gotta spend
Make a wrong move…Boom –
your life comes to an end

-Daniel, 16 y.o., “Run Away” [4]

According to the National Crime Information Center, there are some 435,342 children currently missing in the United States.  While custody disputes account for a large percentage of the children reported missing,  the suspicion by law enforcement is that the remaining children – at least those still alive – are being trafficked. Continue reading

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Dirty Little Secret

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The Armed Forces have for years now instructed our soldiers to ignore the sexual abuse of boys by Afghan leaders viewed as allies of the United States [1].  Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley, Jr. told his father, “At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it.”

In an effort to keep this dirty little secret, the Navy (which oversees the Marine Corps.) has decided to discharge Major Jason Brezler for sharing his concerns with fellow Marines, using an unclassified server [2].

A similar case arose in 2011, when Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland struck an Afghan police official for the rape of a teenage boy.  In that instance, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)intervened, and the Army allowed the Green Beret to stay in the service.

According to former Special Forces Captain Dan Quinn, “But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did – that was something village elders voiced to me.”

Quinn was relieved of his command, and pulled from Afghanistan after beating an Afghan commander who kept a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave.  Quinn subsequently left the military.

There is yet another layer of complexity to the situation.  The Taliban is using child sex slaves to infiltrate Afghan forces, and carry out deadly assaults [3].  Lance Cpl. Buckley (above) and two other Marines were killed by a group of boys living on base with an Afghan police commander. Continue reading

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Hope

When a grievous situation persists beyond all capacity to endure it, victims of abuse can reach a point of hopelessness.

Those who have never been abused may wonder how that is even possible. Human beings were created with hope engineered into their genes. Each breath we take is a hopeful act. Each morning brings a new dawn.

But if each night brings with it the same terrors – groping hands, broken dishes and broken bones – we may abandon hope. Either that or decide hope is a sham – a delusion by evolution to induce our continued existence in the face of intolerable conditions, or the cruel hoax of an uncaring God who has long since abandoned us.

You can tell when a woman has given up hope. Violence will do that. Poverty will do it. You can see the light go out of a child’s eyes. Neglect will do that. Cruelty will do it, especially cruelty by those “nearest and dearest”.

Once hope is gone, it can be extremely difficult to restore. We dare not trust in the possibility that life may get better. We have been too often disappointed, too often disillusioned.

Counterfeit Christianity

Two brothers in upstate New York, Christopher and Lucas Leonard, ages 17 and 19, were this week beaten so severely by their parents and the members of a so called “Christian” sect that the elder died of internal injuries [1]. Bruce and Deborah Leonard have been charged with first degree manslaughter in the death of their son.

Most people will find this degree of cruelty and violence hard to grasp. It was certainly not, in any sense, Christian. Victims should not be misled by counterfeit religions labeling themselves “Christian”, but misrepresenting the brand.

Real Hope

Christianity does bear on the issue of hope. Continue reading

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Kidnapped by Boko Haram

“No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent…
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.”

– “Meditation XVII” by John Donne (1624)

WARNING: Graphic Images

The extremist group Boko Haram has since 2009 led a brutal insurgency in Nigeria with the twin goals of imposing Sharia law and establishing an Islamic regime. Boko Haram is known to utilize child soldiers; engage in the forced conversion, castration, and beheading of non-Muslim men and boys, as well as the kidnap, rape, and forced marriage of women and girls.

Mary Patrick was one of 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 [1]. The horrors she faced during four months of captivity included cannibalism, the murder of her older sister, and repeated rape by as many as five men at a time.

Given a Muslim name and forced to recite verses from the Quran, over and over, Mary began to lose her identity. Thankfully, she managed to escape before it was too late.

Why the World Matters

Why should this matter to American women? Why should it matter to abuse victims, in particular?

Many abuse victims are likewise brutalized. This tends to focus our attention inward, on short-term survival. But there is a great deal of pain in the world…not ours alone. The girls kidnapped by Boko Haram are just one example.

Abuse victims understand pain. That others, too, have suffered should not demoralize us. Rather, it should motivate us to reach out to one another.

Isolated by abuse though we have been, we are part of the world. We have a responsibility toward the world. And the exercise of that responsibility may actually prove healing to us.

Connection

During the Middle Ages, the bubonic plague or “Black Death” as it was known killed an estimated 75-200 million men, women, and children.

The dead grew so numerous that mass graves had to be dug. Venice and other cities banned the ringing of church bells during funeral processions. The sound was thought to discourage the living.

During one outbreak, the poet and clergyman, John Donne, wrote that no man is an island. We are all connected. That is how Christians see things or should. We are connected to one another – whether abuse victims, plague victims, or the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram.

Leaving the Past Behind

No one can blame victims for seeking to forget their experience of abuse. We long to blot abuse off the face of the earth, and rightly so.

Unfortunately, much as we may desire to leave the past behind, we are often bombarded with unwelcome reminders of it [2]. The ongoing barrage of triggers can feel like defeat; the flashbacks, like daily fresh wounds in a war that has gone on for years [3]. We simply cannot move beyond the pain.

While recovery is not a matter of will power, confronting our demons may help us cut them down to size [4]. And using our experience to benefit others can give meaning to our suffering.

Outward toward the World

If we can manage to direct our attention outward toward the world, we may find that what we have suffered has actually increased our empathy for the suffering of others. Their suffering is personal for us, not merely political.

In turn, they may have lessons they can share with us.

Amazingly, Mary Patrick says that her captivity strengthened her faith. “Before, I didn’t go to church, I didn’t read [the] Bible, I didn’t pray. But now I go to church everyday…I am thankful for my life.”

[1] See, Voice of the Martyrs Newsletter, “Trained to Kill – Learning to Forgive”, August 2015.

[2] Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is frequently accompanied by intense flashes of memory. These flashbacks are triggered by sounds, smells, people, places, thoughts, and feelings which call to mind the traumatic event. Flashbacks can cause physical and emotional reactions, including a racing heartbeat, muscle tension, and profuse sweating.

[3] Coping strategies for dealing with triggers include deep breathing, mindfulness/grounding techniques, exercise, relaxation and self-care, writing, art, music, and prayer. The support of friends and loved ones can be extremely valuable.

[4] Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Collection, “Prolonged Exposure vs. Supportive Counseling for Sexual Abuse-Related PTSD in Adolescent Girls: A Randomized Clinical Trial” by Edna Foa PhD, Carmen McLean PhD, Sandra Capaldi PsyD, et al, 12/25/13, http://jama.jamanetwork.com/collection.aspx?categoryid=5862.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Time and the Value of Women

“Sales in Poznan”, Author MOs810 (CC-BY-SA-3.0 Unported)

‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ ” (Eccl. 1: 2).

Clearly, women in Western culture are valued for their youth. We see this all around us.

Ads for every conceivable product from liquor to cable television feature young women (with two ton steel vehicles actually termed “sexy” to increase sales).

Then there are the countless products marketed to women for the ever present “problem” of aging (creams which claim rejuvenating power, hair dyes, Botox injections, and breast implants, to name just a few).  As if living were insufficient.

Starlets in flimsy clothing populate our magazines. Girls as young as 14 model for us, in the place of adult women. Meanwhile, women in their 60s seek plastic surgery – even in vitro fertilization – to prolong their saleability.

Each moment lived, a woman’s value decreases or so it can seem.

A Flight from Death

Perhaps the urge to remain young, or at least appear young, is a flight from death. If anything, however, it highlights the inexorability of time. The race is rigged. Everyone loses in the end.

Christians know that this jaded view is incorrect, incomplete since it fails to take God into account. Some 3000 years ago, when King Solomon composed the Book of Ecclesiastes (from which the quote above is taken), he deliberately wrote from that skewed perspective to drive home his point about the need for God in our lives.

Human nature has not improved much, in the intervening centuries. We remain susceptible to the adversary’s lies.

True Value

But if youth is valuable, maturity is no less so. Our value in God’s eyes does not diminish with age. It was never linked to time, in the first place. Our true value derives from the fact that we have all, male and female, been created by God and that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our Salvation. Continue reading

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Mattress

Though women are encouraged to be sexually active in our culture, they are not always treated kindly when they take that advice.

Mattress

A sexually available girl who has many partners.

Mattress Back

A girl who has sex so often, whether with the same partner (nympho) or many different ones (slut), that her back seems to be constantly on a mattress.

-Urban Dictionary

Child victims of sexual abuse must negotiate this terrain with care. The emotional scars they carry do not make that an easy task.

Some women abused in childhood will seek as adults to reclaim their bodies by initiating frequent, anonymous sex. For them, sex is an attempt at self-affirmation. But no amount of it will fill the void left behind by abuse [1].

Tragically, a great many prostitutes fall into this category [2]. Drug use to dull the pain is common in the sex trade [3].

Other women will engage in sex (often with many partners) in a desperate search for love. These are the girls passed from boy to boy in high school; the women who settle for one night stands, since nothing else is being offered. Continue reading

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