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

1 comment:

Andrea said...

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Andrea, The Honest Woman