Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Congo Warlord Update

Please pray this trial goes more smoothly, that witnesses do not panic for fear of facing prosecution in Congo (quote from article: The start was also delayed while it was explained to the young witness that he might face prosecution in Congo if he incriminated himself.), that justice is served for those who are victims of Thomas Lubanga.

I will continue to follow this story as much as possible.

Proverbs 31:8-9

Backyard Abolitionist Tour

David Batstone
Brant Christopher
will be at the NorthCreek Presbyterian Church in Mill Creek, WA
Sunday, March 8
1:30 - 3PM
For more information: Backyard Abolitionist Tour

Proverbs 31:8-9

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Case to Watch

This was in the headlines this morning. I will try to keep track of the trial and what happens through the year. As I read the article, I see they expect it to be a while before the trial ends.

World court told Congo warlord used children to kill
Proverbs 31:8-9

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Coalition Meeting

A reminder: Monday, January 26, 2009 will be the next Western Washington Coalition to Combat Human Trafficking Meeting. We will begin praying at 6:30 PM and the meeting will open at 7PM. We'll be at Mill Creek Foursquare.

Also, don't forget - Jane Talfel, the U.S. Executive Director for Hagar International will be joining us.

I hope you can come!

Proverbs 31:8-9

Friday, January 16, 2009

Focus on the Family Interview with Linda Smith

An amazing interview with Shared Hope International's Founder Linda Smith. She was on Focus on the Family recently and you can click the link below to listen to the interview.

Focus on the Family Interview with Linda Smith


You will probably be shocked to hear some of the things Linda has to say. As Linda answers several of their questions, one of the interviewers, Dr. Julianna Slattery, states "The natural inclination is to turn away from this. Even talking about it now, it's too evil to take a look at."

Human trafficking is evil in about its ugliest form, I believe. It preys on the weakest and poorest of us and it has grown to the point where it it isn't limited to the poor and weak. Our middle-America, middle-class children are being picked up at the mall, off the street as they walk to school - from places you wouldn't think about - and are being trafficked all across our country. People NEED to make themselves aware. Arm themselves with information. Linda Smith offers suggestions on what people can do about trafficking.

I hope you can take the time to listen. It's about a half hour and for this one you may want to have tissues handy, too.

Proverbs 31:8-9

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Human Trafficking - Movie

This upcoming Sunday, January 18th, beginning at 7PM, ion television will be broadcasting "Human Trafficking" with Donald Sutherland and Mira Sorvino.

I saw this movie when it originally aired in 2005. When I saw the trailer for it on ion last night, I went looking for a brief description on the movie and this was the best I found (from the Frontline For Justice/Northshore Baptist Church recommended human trafficking books/dvd list):

"Human Trafficking" (NR) - A Lifetime miniseries (fiction), with Donald Suthlerland and Mira Sorvino. It is the story of a criminal sex-trade ring led by a Russian gangster, and the lives of the women and girls who are being exploited. It is difficult to watch, but will give you a feel for the people who are involved in this form of slavery. Not recommended for children.

It's a movie worth watching if you have the time. Again, ion television (for us that's channel 3, I don't know if that's the case for everyone) beginning at 7PM, this Sunday.

Proverbs 31:8-9

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Guest Speaker

In at least one earlier post, I listed our next Coalition meeting on January 19th.

That is the wrong date. Please forgive my mistake - I'm a bit excited to get back to the business of the Coalition! It has been difficult between the snow and the holidays and I feel like a part of me has been missing.

We will be meeting on January 26th, beginning at 7PM (6:30 for prayer, if you would like to join us) until 9PM at Mill Creek Foursquare Church.

In addition to getting back into the routine of meeting, I am excited about this upcoming Coalition meeting because we are having a guest speaker:

Jane Talfel is the U.S. Executive Director for Hagar International. Hagar International is an amazing NGO committed to the recovery and empowerment of women and children who are victims of abuse, particularly domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual exploitation. This mission is achieved through Hagar commercial enterprises and social programs and in strategic partnerships with the private sector, governments and NGO’s. Hagar support entities operate in Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States. Hagar is currently expanding its programs into Afghanistan, India, Laos, and Vietnam.

Proverbs 31:8-9

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

January 11, 2009
The third National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
The following is taken from a report sent to someone in our Coalition by a Catholic nun who has been devoted to the cause of human trafficking for many years:

"No one is free, until everyone is free." Vivet Pandik

God of life, truth and freedom, to you we speak:

O God, you give peace and you desire justice for all people, hear our prayers for the enslaved members of our global human family, our sisters and brothers, our children and young men and women, held in slavery, brutalized and traumatized by the horror of human trafficking. Hear our anguished cry for them, see our hidden tears for them, as we pray together to you, at this moment, in their name.


Abuses against women are relentless, systematic, and widely tolerated, if not explicitly condoned.

Violence and discrimination against women are global social epidemics… Our duty as activists is to expose and denounce as human rights violations those practices and policies that silence and subordinate women. We reject specific legal, cultural, or religious practices by which women are systematically discriminated against, excluded from political participation and public life, segregated in their daily lives, raped in armed conflict, beaten in their homes, denied equal divorce or inheritance rights, killed for having sex, forced to marry, assaulted for not conforming
to gender norms, and trafficked into forced labor. Arguments that sustain and excuse these human rights abuses - those of cultural norms, “appropriate” rights for women, or western imperialism - barely disguise their true meaning: that women's lives matter less than men's.
Litany of Remembrance for those who are enslaved:
For child soldiers, child laborers and children exploited in pornography, we pray:
Response: Deliver them from darkness into your wonderful Light.
R. For young girls, exploited on city streets and hidden in brothels,
R. For enslaved women, desperate, alone, and abandoned,
R. For men in bondage, betrayed, forgotten and despairing,
R. For all Human Family members currently enslaved around the world, we pray:

Litany of Thanksgiving for the Spirit’s Action in our World:

Leader: For UN and world leaders, state and local government officials,
Response: Give them with wisdom, confirm them in courage,bless them with perseverance.

R. For members of NGOs, anti-trafficking organizations, women’s and children’s rights groups
R. For members of religious communities and women’s organizations working for justice and equality
R. For children and youth engaged in their own struggle for security, independence and freedom
Other intercessions as desired. . .
Closing Prayer - Leader:
O God, You know the anguished pain we feel for those who are trapped in slavery. May this sorrow move us to action for justice, contemplative prayer and daily conversion of heart. Together we pray:

All: Give us Wisdom, that we may know how best to serve. Give us trust that our lives and works for others may bear lasting fruit. Give us courage, because life is short and each day a gift, given to share. We ask for faith, because we see sorrow and death around us. We ask for hope, because you are the God of Life. We ask for gratitude, because you call us each by name and daily promise us to make all things new. Amen, Alleluia
Song: Amazing Grace (written by John Henry Newton*)

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found…was blind, but now, I see.
Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear…and Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear...the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares...we have already come.
Twas Grace that brought us safe thus far...and Grace will lead us home.
The Lord has promised good to me...His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion long as life endures.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years...bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise...then when we’ve first begun.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…that saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found…was blind, but now, I see.

*John Henry Newton (July 24, 1725 – December 21, 1807) was an Englishman, Anglican clergyman and former slave-ship captain. He was the author of many hymns, including Amazing Grace. Among his greatest contributions to history was encouraging William Wilberforce, a Member of Parliament, to stay in Parliament and “serve God where he was”, rather than enter the ministry. Wilberforce heeded the former slave ship captain’s advice and spent the next twenty years successfully working for the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire.
~ J. Cather snjm 2009

Proverbs 31:8-9

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Law & Order Comments

If you didn't watch last night's episode of Law & Order, nothing I say next will make any sense.

Let me open by saying I didn't like the ending. The idea of that boy spending any time in prison because he was forced into doing what he did just rankled me like fingers on a chalkboard.

Instead, I choose to view it as speaking to the need for advocacy on behalf of children like him. No person on this planet should be enslaved. Anywhere. Ever. That it is done with an attitude of "What? We're HELPING the boy..." boggles my mind.

Yes - I know. It was a fictional story but I can see it unfolding in real life almost as it did on TV and then what? A child, stolen from his home, forced to sleep in a closet (often in conditions a LOT worse than where the family "used" to keep the litter box), work until all hours of the night, not play, not go to school - ends up in prison. Tried as an adult? Or...spend what's left of his already non-existent childhood in juvenile detention.

Possibly. I also know there are provisions set in place by the TVPA (Trafficking Victims Protection Act) that might put him in a place other than prison (it seems I need to brush up on it again because nothing specific comes to mind!). But that line of adults in handcuffs... How much trauma should a trafficking victim have to endure before someone figures out the "right" place for them? Immediately upon recognition as a victim of trafficking, there should be a place for the victim to go, to be and feel safe.

Truth is - jail is usually the best they have. There aren't shelters for victims of trafficking. They barely exist in this country. There are people trying to change that but MORE people need to step up and help.

This issue, the possibilities and all of the horrors it can entail seem to be a tunnel so dark we will never, never see the light at the end. The attitudes - after all - what a lovely couple the traders made, hmm? They were giving these children a "better life." How many people justify such treatment with that statement. Right - the children were no longer living in a one room cardboard hovel with 9 siblings and a single mother who can't work because she's sick and the father is either long gone or dead.

Anything would be better than that.

It's the "anything" that gets you. No - scrubbing floors and dishes, doing laundry and ironing, dusting and vacuuming, sweeping and raking leaves and whatever other horrible job the family doesn't want to do, from 4 or 5 AM until midnight or later does not qualify as "better." In addition to being malnurished, the child ends up with rashes and skin issues from cleaning supplies. They rarely eat better than they did before they were bought...their enslavers often withhold food as a form of punishment for a job not done up to "standards." They are beaten, forced to sleep on the floor without blankets or pillows of any kind, they are often kept barefoot (can't run away quite so easily if you don't have shoes) and unwashed. They are often raped. They aren't taught English. They aren't taught anything, actually. Well...not beyond how to fold a fitted sheet properly, anyhow.

This blog wasn't supposed to be about my personal opinions (although they were going to creep in now and again but I am trying to keep them to a minimum) but even though last night's show barely scratched the surface of what is happening around the world - and right in our own backyard, it kindled the anger again. Ok - it sent up flames of anger so big I'm amazed the ceiling in my bedroom isn't scorched. The buying and selling of people needs to stop.

Look over your fence - if it's not in the house next door, it's a few doors down. Trafficking is not just for pushing people into the sex trade (although that is probably happening in your neighborhood, too).

People are not a disposable resource. Under absolutely no circumstances should they be considered as such.

It's not a new issue. It needs to become a done issue. While last night's show was more tame than some I have seen and didn't focus as hard on the victims of trafficking, I am grateful each and every time human trafficking gets attention. I pray it touched you - touched you to want to find out more.

And you're still invited January 19th to our next Coalition meeting.

Proverbs 31:8-9

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Law & Order Tonight - Human Trafficking Episode

This is an email I sent out today to just about everyone in my address book. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I just copied it here.

Good morning, everyone. I wanted to send this quick email to give you the information regarding Law & Order tonight. Most of you know how I feel about the issue of human trafficking. I have not seen this episode but if you choose to watch it - have tissues handy and be prepared to feel numb at the end. Even in its most benign form in any TV show, I end up in tears. It is hard enough to imagine - it is even harder to watch, even if it is just being acted out and isn't "real." The real stuff is impossible to watch for more than a few seconds.

If you do watch the episode and have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask. And - if you decide you want to know more about getting involved, our next Coalition meeting is Monday, January 19th. I'd be more than happy to have you attend that with me.

Thanks for reading & I hope you are able & choose to watch tonight.


--- On Tue, 1/6/09, Peggy Callahan Free the Slaves wrote:
From: Peggy Callahan Free the Slaves Subject: Free the Slaves: Child Slavery on Law & Order tomorrow night 10 PM/ 9c NBC

Law & Order tells a compelling story of child slavery in New York on Wednesday night on NBC at 10 PM/9 central.

Two detectives on the show are investigating a double murder when they uncover and a child slave trade ring between Haiti and New York. “This is one of those rare episodes that touched everyone who worked on it,” says Executive Producer Rene Balcer about what he calls probably the most powerful episode of the season. Rene told Free the Slaves, “Even our crusty thick-skinned editors were moved to tears by the ending. It also opened a lot of eyes to the present-day, modern-world reality of slavery and indentured servitude. I would urge everyone who, as a result of this e-blast, watches the episode to call NBC thanking them for allowing the writers and producers of Law & Order to shine a spotlight on this issue.” [NBC Viewer Services at 212-664-5740]

Getting slavery into the mainstream is a core goal of FTS. We’re thrilled that one of the most popular TV shows in history is highlighting slavery. The producers of the show were inspired to write the episode, “Chattel”, after reading ‘A Crime So Monstrous’ by Ben Skinner. Ben traveled around the world researching slavery and visiting FTS’ partners including in Haiti. The show illustrates some of the psychological complexity of working with the victims of slavery who have spent years living with deprivation and fear. Keep in mind, the episode is not a documentary so when you hear Sam Waterson say there are no anti-trafficking statutes in New York – thankfully that is no longer true. In fact, New York recently passed an anti-trafficking law and is one of 40 states that have criminal anti-trafficking statutes on the books. But only half of those states have victim protection laws to help the survivors of slavery. You can find out more about child domestic slavery in Haiti [the restavek system] and what FTS is doing with partners to combat it here:

And…FTS is featured on the Law & Order website:

Please forward this to everyone you know in the universe.

Proverbs 31:8-9

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Coalition Meeting

An early reminder ~

The next Coalition meeting for the

Western Washington Coalition to Combat Human Trafficking

Will be held on Monday, January 19, 2009.

Prayer begins at 6:30 PM and the meeting will begin at 7PM.

We will be meeting at Mill Creek Foursquare.

Hope you can join us.

Proverbs 31:8-9