“Very disturbing and certainly deeply effects the “beauty” of the city as just experienced. You can know about something but not really know. It is very convicting. The wounds …… the pain……. so much work of healing to be done” these were the words of my sister-in-law, Carol Brown, after viewing this special last night on PBS.
She sent the link to me immediately after my initial publishing of this post and it is powerful. She and my brother Dan have just returned from speaking at a conference in Istanbul.
Istanbul, with a sky-line that makes one think they have died and gone to Heaven and a grand bazaar where legends are made, is currently home to my daughter Stefanie. Taking a gap year, she first traveled to Milan, Italy for 3 months, moved on to Sicily for a month and arrived in Istanbul a week after her 19th birthday.
Stef is loving döner kebap, bargaining, and exploring this amazing city. She has also learned more about a troubling issue: that of human trafficking. Working with a group that assists women who have escaped from forced prostitution and gendercide, she inspects jewelry they have made, ensuring it meets quality control standards in order to be sold abroad. Through the art of jewelry-making women develop relationships, skills, and the comfort of community and safety as they gather around a table. As they craft beautiful and unique pieces the slow healing process takes place and my hope would be that they are reminded that they aren’t cheap costume jewelry to be used and thrown away, but rather the real deal – gold and diamonds.
My daughter’s unexpected involvement in this work has convicted me that this is an area that I know far too little about. As a woman, who believes deeply in the value of people made in the image of God, I need to know more. Stef’s work has challenged me to learn more to be able to do more.
*The Victims • The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age • An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year • 95% of victims experienced physical or sexual violence during trafficking (based on data from selected European countries) • 43% of victims are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation, of whom 98 per cent are women and girls • 32% of victims are used for forced economic exploitation, of whom 56 per cent are women and girls
But it’s the rare person burdened by statistics alone. It is usually the compelling narratives that bring us along and force us from a place of complacency to a place of action – and action can mean anything from buying a piece of jewelry to support women, to getting heavily involved through organizations who are working specifically in the area of human trafficking. A fellow blogger and third culture kid wrote a post in December that I am linking here. It is just one of the 1.2 million and counting stories but at least it is one. Called “My First Hooker” (don’t be put off by the title!) it tells the story of the bloggers trip to Mali and meeting with a Dutch mission worker who weekly visits a brothel to counsel prostitutes. Take a look and watch the accompanying video.
I am thankful that my awareness of human trafficking as more than an NPR news story came in an unexpected way – through the eyes of a 19 year-old and her gap-year.
- Frontline:sex slaves/PBS
- Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking
- Think about buying jewelry here! Better Way Imports