Ending Human Trafficking: Whats culture got to do with it?


“… and I want one day of respite, one day off, one day in which no new bodies are piled up, one day in which no new agony is added to the old, and I am asking that you to give it to me. And how could I ask you for less- it is so little. And how could you offer me less; it is so little. Even wars, there are days of truce. Go and organize a truce. Stop your side for one day. I want a twenty-four-hour truce during which there is no rape…” Andrea Dworkin [Transforming a Rape Culture]

Did you know that adult elephants are chained with the same size chain and stake that they have when they’re a baby? When I heard this, it shook me as I contemplated the reasons why such a strong animal wouldn’t just simply move its leg a bit further, easily breaking the chain and run for freedom. Then I realized that the elephant doesn’t even know it is a powerful animal who’s being held back by a small chain. The chain has become a part of its body – eventually, the elephant doesn’t even know what life is like without the chains.

Have you ever stopped to wonder what aspects of your life are meant to be verses chains holding you back from truly experiencing freedom? I’ve thought about this a lot as I’ve been on my journey in the movement to end sexual violence. I’ve had countless conversations with people in all sorts of formats and the one sentiment that always shows up is; “But Jess, there’s not much you can do about it. Rape is always going to happen…”

Sure, you may call me a dreamer after you finish reading this blog post, but hold up on the judgments just for this series and let’s see if I’m the only one. You see, I believe in the good of human nature, I believe that we were created innately good, but we’ve all adapted, as the elephants have, to the chains in our lives. We’ve accepted lies as truth, captivity as freedom, and acceptance as control.

We live in a system which binds us to a belief that one individual sex is meant for great things; leadership, decisiveness, authority, and control all are seen as innate characteristics to the male sex. We live in a world were anything other than male-dominated leadership is seen as “progressive” or “counter to God’s great plan” rather than simply, “God’s plan”.

It breaks my heart, and I’m sure it breaks God’s heart, when I hear powerful, young women talk about their destiny only in the merging of a potential partners calling and success.

   The reality is, we are ALL called individually to do great, powerful, amazing things for God’s kingdom.

Each human being is a child of God, gifted with wondrous potential, but when we lose sight of this fact for earthly power, we begin to destroy God’s creation. God used women for some of the most important solutions in his plan to win us all back to him.

Women are not plan B in God’s plan for this world, but for centuries women have been treated as if we are. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that it became illegal to beat your wife – as she was legally considered property and you could do what you wanted with your “property”. Even more shocking is that marital rape has only been a criminal act since 1993, and there are still holes in the legislation in various states which lead to continued marital rape with no repercussions.

Here’s the deal, if men are truly the leaders of the world in God’s eyes, then how come the majority of staff and volunteers are female at the shelter I work at? How come the majority of attendees and speakers at anti-violence conventions are female? Why are men not taking a leadership role in this area?

I believe that to end the travesty that is Human Trafficking, the sexual enslavement of our women, girls, and young boys; MEN must take a bigger role. We, as a society, as the church, must move away from the idea that God created men to dominate women and the world around them.

The world was given to Adam and Eve. I believe God’s expectation for us is that we see ourselves equally responsible, equally gifted, and equally qualified under one God.

I believe that until we completely dismantle the patriarchal view that only men are powerful, only men are gifted, we will continue to see the enslavement of our daughters (and sons).

Our focus over the next several weeks on this blog will be to address the many myths we see populating in our churches, in our media, and in our inner circles in regards to sexual violence and sexual exploitation. It is my hope that together, we can fight this fight and lead to the restoration in the millions of people around the world affected by human trafficking and sexual violence. It is my hope we will remove the chains from our legs and see our strength.

We are God’s tools, each of us. Male and female. We are the answer to that little girl’s prayer who has just been raped by 15 men in the dirty night club in Minneapolis.

Until next week.







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