My wife and I are currently working on a 10-country documentary on sex trafficking. We’ve interviewed victims, johns, undercover detectives, prosecutors, care workers, and research experts. And the more we learn about sex trafficking — this horrific version of modern-day slavery — the more we realize it’s connected to so many other important issues.
The most obvious one, of course, is prostitution, but there are also clear links between sex trafficking and poverty, pornography, race, child abuse, foster care, drug abuse, and…
It’s still a hot topic in North America, and it’s a discussion that my wife and I have begun to see with new eyes.
Consider the story of Sandy* a former trafficking victim. One of her early memories was of being molested by a family member on her seventh birthday. By the time she was 11, she was addicted to drugs and alcohol. At age 12, she got pregnant. Her mother drove her to the abortion clinic, and told her to find her own way home.
Sandy was so far along in her pregnancy that the doctors had to dilate her. The pain was excruciating, and the process took hours. They didn’t have room for her to lie down, so they told her to go outside. She lay down on the front lawn of the abortion clinic, crying in pain, while a group of Christians picketed in the parking lot, screaming at her.
While those picketing could have intervened, preventing further trauma and abuse in Sandy’s life, no one helped Sandy that day. No one offered to adopt her baby. No one offered to take her in. They just shouted at her.
The only people who showed her any attention in her adolescence were predatory men; she was trafficked shortly thereafter.
In Germany, we heard the story of a 19-year-old prostituted girl who had already self-performed three abortions. In almost every country we visited, we heard stories of pimps beating pregnant women until their babies died. In other cases, women chose to abort their babies in an attempt to save their children from the hell that was sure to be their fate.
Do we have the right to judge these women if we’re not willing to help them? Is abortion really that cut and dry? Don’t get me wrong, I’m very pro-life: which means, among other things, that I’m in favour of nuclear disarmament, banning assault weapons, and fighting for the freedom of exploited women.
Being pro-life means that I care deeply about all life — that of the unborn child, but also of the mother who carries that child.
If we truly claim to be pro-life, we can’t just be against something. We need to be for something.
Are we willing to consider adoption, foster care, and mentoring?
Are we willing to put down our signs and take up the burden of others?
Are we willing to spend time with prostituted women, just like Jesus did?
We must be willing to practice grace without exception. We must be willing to love the little girl on the lawn.
*Name has been changed
Photo (Flickr, CC) by AnyaLogic.