Monthly Archives: February 2013

“Not Today” trailer

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Is Technology and Social Media helping to Create Sex Traffickers?

Two weeks ago I read an article in the London Telegraph that has eaten at me ever since. The reporter, Cole Moreton, was writing about the 2011 death of 13-year-old Chevonea Kendall-Bryan and the culture of pornography surrounding our children.

Although the events happened in the spring of 2011, Chevonea’s case was just wrapping up in January of this year. The court was told Chevonea claimed 18-year-old Benn Miebaka had forced her to perform a sex act on him following a half-term party. She said a second boy, known to the court as E6, threatened to smash the windows at Chevonea’s home if she did not repeat the act on him the following day. When she complied, he made a recording of the act and later texted it to his friends. Chevonea accidentally died while hanging out of her fourth-floor window begging him to delete it, and not surprisingly, when she fell, the boy ran away.

One of the many things that disturbed me was that Chevonea (only 13!) reported both assaults to teachers at her school, only to have it dismissed. Teenage boys do these things and boys will be boys, and all that. Yes, they will if someone doesn’t teach them that it is not only inappropriate to coerce sex but illegal. In both cases Chevonea was forced or threatened into complying; she was not a willing participant. It seems she was also filmed without her knowledge and exposed to who knows how many others. Even if the boy had deleted the video, once it entered cyberspace, no one can stop it.

What this article and several others in the Telegraph (links below) mention is the culture of pornography that fuels a lot of these behaviors. Kids have access to hardcore porn 24 hours a day, and this is where many are getting their sexual education and ideas. One boy mentioned that all of the stuff on the internet is staged; he likes the “real” stuff that guys he knows post.

In his article, Moreton talks about boys encouraging their girlfriends to send them explicit pictures of themselves (sexting) and the boys trading them with each other like boys used to trade baseball cards. I wonder how many of the girls are aware that they are being swapped. I wonder how many of these images will pop up in later years to haunt them.

When I think about how a man evolves into a trafficker of women and children for sexual purposes, it seems to me he must first be taught to objectify women. Surely, women are something to be used like he’s seen in the readily available pornography (the more hardcore, the more objectification). He is duped into believing that this is how women and girls want to be treated, i.e., they like being degraded. It is also not likely he will be aware that some of the pornography he is watching comes about through manipulation, coercion and threat.

Evolving from there, women are not only objectified but go on to be seen as a commodity, an item to trade. Wait, isn’t that what these boys are already doing with the pictures of their girlfriends? Sharing them, swapping them? Are they thinking of the girls as people with feelings, who might be embarrassed or ashamed by others seeing them naked? Are these boys showing concern for their relationships with the girls or how this might affect the girls in the long-term? No, the culture of pornography does not teach them to think in such terms.

It is only a step further for the entrepreneurial one to realize he can make money doing this. Rather than trade, sell!

If this behavior is not stopped, if boys are not taught that this is wrong, they are well on their way to becoming men who will sell their girlfriends (or any girl for that matter) to other men, in person, online, or on the streets. And once the lure of money is added to the mix, where will it end?

I will grant that most boys will not grow up to be traffickers. They may develop into normal, healthy contributors to society. But these kinds of things lay the groundwork for the making of a trafficker.

In 2013, many kids have unlimited access to computers and cell phones at younger ages, long before they are capable of controlling and understanding the world of pornography, or their own sexuality for that matter. Pornography is a seductive labyrinth that can swallow them whole. Curiosity is natural, but without some guidance and limits from adults, it can become an addictive and maladaptive force. 11, 12, 13-year-olds are often blinded by hormones when it comes to rationally thinking through the consequences of their behaviors. They need instruction, healthy models, and accurate information. Like Cole Moreton who fears for his two daughters growing up in this culture, I fear for my four granddaughters and my grandson. The pressures on them are immense.

This means that the dreaded sex talks are becoming more and more necessary as well as more difficult. These are not easy topics to address, but the health of our young people depend on it. We don’t want to minimize or be dismissive of the issues like Chevonea’s school at the price of more children’s lives.

We also need to be willing to be models of what is healthy sexually and relationally. We need to help young people learn what it means to be a good man or a good woman. This is one more thing we can do in the fight against sexual trafficking.

You’ll notice that I put a question mark at the end of my title to this piece. I did so because I’m not sure anyone knows how a man evolves into a trafficker, if anyone has studied this side of the issue. These are my speculations on the subject and certainly not a scholarly treatise. If anyone knows of a study. I would be interested in the information.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/9828589/Children-and-the-culture-of-pornography-Boys-will-ask-you-every-day-until-you-say-yes.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/sexual-health-and-advice/9871805/Fears-over-11-year-olds-sending-sex-texts.html
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/technology/willardfoxton2/100008808/revenge-porn-and-snapchat-how-young-women-are-being-lured-into-sharing-naked-photos-and-videos-with-strangers/
http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/Teens-and-Sexting.aspx

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Seattle police officer starts a rescue project for domestic minor sex trafficking victims

The Genesis Project was started by Deputy Andy Conner in the Seattle area in 2011. Their target group is victims of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST). Deputy Conner used to arrest prostitutes, now he helps them get out of the life. Blessings on this man and may more like him rise up.

Below are links to the Genesis Project and a powerful article by a photojournalist named Tim Matsui, another great man rising up and doing something to make a difference. Mr. Matsui’s article led me to the Genesis project. Matsui is doing a photojournalism research study on DMST in the Seattle area.

http://www.gpseattle.net/
http://www.alexiafoundation.org/blog/2013/02/11/the-robe-womens-initiative-update-from-tim-matsui/

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Children don’t choose to be prostitutes

Yes, some child prostitutes (under 18) choose on their own to sell their bodies, but why? They are slaves to survival. If they had another choice, would they do it? NO! Or they are desperately searching for love and do not understand the difference between love and sex. Or their bodies have already been violated so what difference does it make? They are slaves of circumstance and need another choice. Bless those who are giving them choices.

News on Modern Day Slavery

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Are all prostitues slaves? No. Are all childprostitutes slaves? Yes. Are many adult prostitues continuing the lives they were forced into as children? Yes. Click the picture to learn more about The A 21 Campaign.

 

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Once again, sexual violence is used as a weapon

Sexual terrorism in Egypt

This came from a friend of mine in Cairo, Egypt where rape and sexual assault are being used as weapons to terrorize and silence protestors. Almost daily, he is sending reports of women being assaulted in the crowds and on the streets. Why do men do this? I just don’t understand. Those commiting assault say it is improper for a woman to have her head uncovered or her face or her feet or even her eyes or her voice should not be heard on the streets, but it is not improper for a man to tear her clothes off, grope her or shove his hands inside her or worse?? Like in the New Delhi rape or Sohaila Abdulali’s case, the men point at the perceived improper behavior of the women and justify their own rampant sexual violence. Again, I just don’t understand. Sigh.

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International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM/C, Panel Discussion Tomorrow

While I do not claim to be fully informed on the subject of female genital cutting (or mutilation) and recognize that there are a lot of cultural traditions that are difficult for those of us in the U.S. to understand, I believe this is a practice that comes out of male dominance and control of the female population. I realize women support it in many places, but it has more to do with cultural acceptance and marriage possibilities than that it enhanced their lives. One sociologist purporting tolerance equated it with female genital cosmetic surgeries in the U.S. The difference (in my mind) is the cosmetic surgeries are completely voluntary and done on consenting adults. In most countries FGM/C is done on girls from infants to young teens or as a right of passage into womanhood at the onset of puberty.

The information below is from the U.S. Department of State with a link to a panel discussion on the topic that will air tomorrow:

“In observance of the tenth anniversary of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer will deliver remarks and lead a panel discussion on February 6 at 9:30 a.m. in the Loy Henderson Auditorium. To raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of FGM/C and discuss efforts and solutions to address this harmful traditional practice, Ambassador Verveer will be joined by leaders and practitioners in the field including: The Honorable Amina Salum Ali, Ambassador of the African Union to the United States; Dr. Nawal Nour of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA; Bakary Tamba of the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Tostan in Senegal; and Jessie Hexpoor of the NGO Hivos in the Netherlands.”

Follow the event @S_GWI and hashtags #EndFGM/C and #ZTD on Twitter.

The program will also be webcast live for international audiences at URL: http://conx.state.gov/digital-diplomacy

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Powerful song and video from Break the Silence

Beautiful. Sad. Left me in tears.

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