John Bradshaw - Hidden in Plain View
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This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. Thanks for joining me. You wonder how it can happen. I mean, we're a long way into the 21st century now, and yet the problem is as bad, in fact, the problem is worse now than it's ever been before. CNN reported that a Pakistani man worked seven days a week in a cell-phone store in Hong Kong. He slept on the floor of the store and was regularly beaten by his employer. He was sent home to Pakistan without having been paid one cent. When he complained about his treatment, associates of his employer threatened the lives of him and his family. CNN also told the story of two Bangladeshi men who paid six thousand dollars each to secure work at a hotel in Scotland. They were told they would earn $22,500 a year. When they got there, they found that had been changed to $125 a week, $6,500 a year. And then they didn't even get that much.
When they complained about the treatment they were receiving, they were told by their employer, "I am sponsoring you. If you complain, I will withdraw my sponsorship, you'll be here illegally, and you'll be arrested". And then there's the 14-year-old middle-schooler who was picked on by her classmates. An older girl befriended her before introducing her to a man in his thirties. That man treated her wonderfully, before asking her for favors. Before long, she was servicing forty men a day. Forty. She found herself trapped in a web she simply didn't know how to get out of. And when she talked about leaving, a gun appeared and her life was threatened.
Human trafficking is the second most lucrative crime in the world, after drug trafficking. And 22 percent of all human trafficking victims are forced into prostitution. Based on the numbers we have, that would mean that right now there are more than four and a half million women and girls who have been forced into prostitution, against their will. And they're not all somewhere else. Some of them are near you. Human trafficking is a massive global problem. A problem that's hidden in plain view. And even if you can't see it from where you are, the problem is real. It's very real. Girls as young as 12 or younger. Mothers who are forced to leave their families to find "work" far from home. Men forced to toil as laborers without pay and without any hope of escaping their difficult existence.
Trafficking sees people pressed into forced labor, child labor, domestic servitude, bonded labor, where people are forced to work to pay off debt, even the debts of ancestors in some cases, sex trafficking, or child sex trafficking. The United States State Department website says this: "Modern slavery, trafficking in persons, and human trafficking have been used as umbrella terms for the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion". It's estimated that one in 100 Moldovans is trafficked. If this was the United States, that would be the equivalent of 32 million people. That's an enormous amount of people from this little country who have been forced against their will into lives of slavery.
Irina Arap: So imagine a 35-year-old woman with two kids, abused by her husband, with no prospectives for very good job opportunities, is receiving a very good offer from a neighbor to go abroad to earn some money for a living. So these are the main push factors that help the traffickers to make the citizens fall into their traps.
John Bradshaw: And the poverty and the lack of opportunities means Moldova has become a fertile breeding ground for human trafficking.
Lidia Gorceag: Yes. There are victims that are very aware that they will be exploited. They go back and forth again and again, not because they want to be exploited, but because they see no way out of their situation.
Irina Arap: So it's about poverty and vulnerability. Social factors also determine the citizens to accept the offers of the strangers sometimes. It's the same as, let's take the case of so-called woman. She has no house. She has, for example, divorced from her husband; she has two kids. Sometimes it could be, one of them could be a disabled child, so she does not see any future better opportunities for her in Moldova. So it means that she has no perspectives here in Moldova. So then she is to accept this job abroad.
Lidia Gorceag: Two sisters, 18 and 23 years old, came from a boarding school. They have no external support. No parents, no siblings, no house, nothing to their name except a child that the older one had. Through the internet, they met a man from Albania who offered them a job. Knowing that they had no money, he paid for them to fly to Albania. So they took her six-month-old baby and left, knowing that it was potentially dangerous. When they arrived, the trafficker took the baby to stay with his parents away from the girl, and the girls were taken to Switzerland and Germany to become prostitutes.
Irina Arap: Recruitment measures used by traffickers have changed a bit. They have become, let's say kinder or mild. But this is also not very good for us, the professional in this field, because sometimes it may bring to a lower level of identification of victims themselves. I will talk in examples. We had a victim of human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Spain. Of course, she was in this house where the exploitation was taking place. But she had, she had a cell phone and in the building there was also Wi-Fi. So, she was given some money, but very little money, just to buy cigarettes, and she had the possibility to go to the shop, just two minutes from the building. But at the same time she does not know the language, and her cell phone has not a valid Spanish number.
Lidia Gorceag: My colleagues and I sometimes feel guilty because we cannot help enough. Once the victims leave our center, where can they go? We feel like we have not done enough because there simply aren't enough long-term resources.
Irina Arap: Up to 15 percent of the victims who have been identified and assisted within our program get to be retrafficked in several years or so.
John Bradshaw: This is It Is Written. Thanks for joining me. There are 21 million people in the world right now who are the victims of human trafficking. That's almost the population of Australia. Of that amount, 68 percent are exploited for labor, 10 percent are in state-imposed forced labor, and 22 percent are being sexually exploited. I'm in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. Moldova is a landlocked country located between Romania and Ukraine. For more than 50 years Moldova was a part of the Soviet Union. Over the centuries, it's been the scene of invasions and revolutions, not uncommon for Europe. It's estimated that 1 in 100 Moldovans is trafficked. If this was the United States, that would be the equivalent of 32 million people. That's an enormous amount of people from this little country who are being forced against their will into lives of slavery. Remember what the State Department says: "...through the use of force, fraud or coercion". Many of them forced to work in the sex industry.
Irina Arap: She would get the money from the recruiter to, to have her passport done, most of the time they do not have, they do not hold their passports. Then she might get some money to travel. It can be by bus, by train, or by plane, recently it's not a problem; it's affordable. But this is also something that they are afterwards constrained with, because you have a debt to me so you must work for this to, to give me back the money. Sometimes, the exploitation occurs immediately, or sometimes she could be given some time to adapt to the situation. She will be in an apartment with other 10 ladies or so, if we talk about sexual exploitation. And then she will get, you know, this physical abuse sometimes, or psychological abuse, and the exploitation can, can go on, I mean, start immediately.
For example, the last case I dealt with, I think in middle February, was about nine Moldavan citizens who were exploited for labor in the Russian Federation. They were hiding in their rooms just to, only one of them had a cell phone. But they somehow managed to threaten the trafficker that they would call the police. Nevertheless, one woman was, um, also exploited. And because she tried to escape, she was kept in the outside for two hours with almost no clothes on her, at minus 20. So this was a sort of punishment. But, nevertheless, they managed to escape. They retrieved their passports. So they were repatriated to Moldova. But in regards to the criminal investigation, I cannot tell the stage of it.
John Bradshaw: Human trafficking is simply a response to a demand that exists. Because prostitution is treated so blithely by so many in society today you know, boys will be boys, it's a victimless crime, it's the world's oldest profession, makes it possible for trafficking to flourish. It can operate in the shadows of an evil profession which itself thrives in every major city in the United States and, it's fair to say, in every major city throughout the world. And because from a distance one prostitute looks pretty much like another, you can't tell whether that woman standing on the street corner is pursuing a career choice or is being trafficked against her will. It was reported that in Columbus, Ohio, of the 1,000 prostitutes put behind bars every year, 92% are being trafficked. That's almost every single one.
So what does this have to do with the Bible? Everything. Jesus said in John 8:36, "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed". Now, consider this: With 21 million people being trafficked in the world right now, between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. Eighty percent are female, and half are children. With between 14,500 and 17,500 being trafficked into the United States every year, that's 50 a day, every day, do you think it's only atheists doing the trafficking, or the using? You see, God's desire is that people are free. And yet there's another form of slavery that affects even more people than human trafficking. I'll tell you more in just a moment.
The flight attendant noticed her. She appeared to be 14 maybe 15 years of age and she looked out of place. She was disheveled, her hair was greasy, she looked uncomfortable. And she was seated next to a man who was considerably older and very well dressed. So the flight attendant alerted the pilot, the pilot alerted authorities on the ground, and when the flight from Seattle landed in San Francisco, law enforcement officials were waiting to intercept the man, and to release the girl and return her to a much better life than the life moments before, she was facing. Human trafficking happens, and more than likely it happens near you.
If you've traveled through airports you may have noticed signs up in airports warning about human trafficking. It really does take place. It might be taking place at the mall in your neighborhood as young people are groomed by unscrupulous men who would turn them over to a life of misery and shame. I'd like to encourage you if you suspect that you are witnessing human trafficking taking place, you go online to www.ice.gov/tips and share the information that you have. Something can be done. Also be sure to pray. Pray about what you are seeing or pray for this awful phenomenon in general. Also you might want to know its best not to approach the supposed victims or perpetrators of human trafficking. If you are a human trafficking victim, speak out, seek help. Cautiously contact law enforcement officials and know that there people that will help you.
If you're old enough, you'll remember it like it was yesterday. In 1987, an 18-month-old little girl somehow fell down a narrow well shaft in her aunt's backyard in Midland, Texas. She was stuck 22 feet under the ground for two and a half days, and the nation and much of the rest of the world watched around-the-clock coverage of the rescue of Baby Jessica. Of course, all these years later Jessica doesn't remember what happened back then, but every time she looks in the mirror today, she sees a scar on her forehead, a reminder that someone saved her when she couldn't save herself. I Corinthians 15:4 says, "Christ died for our sins". You weren't there at the time, but whenever you open a Bible you'll be reminded of what God did for you. It's something that you never want to forget. I'm John Bradshaw for It Is Written. Let's live today by every word.
Thanks for joining me today on It Is Written, in the Republic of Moldova. It's a country with a turbulent history littered with conquests and invasions. In the 1940s and '50s, 250,000 Moldovans were sent to labor camps in Siberia. During World War II, thousands of Jews perished here. But the crime against humanity that plagues Moldova today is the same as that which plagues societies all over the world. Human trafficking right now flourishes in the United States. And what that means is, you can buy a human being, usually a woman or a girl, for the purpose of sexual exploitation. And you can own her just like you would own a pair of shoes or a dog. Except very few dogs were ever treated as badly as a woman who is trafficked.
There's a growing awareness in Moldova and around the world of the problem of human trafficking, with more light being shown on the subject, and more and more people willing to lend their support to the fight against it. There's one thing, and only one thing, that will actually fix the problem. You can't blame the women and the girls involved. No female chooses to be trafficked. If you locked them all up, all you'd be doing would be punishing the victims. And if you locked them up, there'd be a fresh batch of victims back out on the streets to take their place in no time at all. The reason human trafficking exists is economics. It's a case of supply and demand. If unscrupulous businessmen wouldn't exploit workers, you wouldn't have forced labor. And if men wouldn't pay money to exploit trafficked women, the problem would just go away. But the challenge is, there's a market for this. The problem is, there are sick men who will pay money for sex, and in many cases knowing full well that the victim involved is trafficked, or illegal.
And who are these sick men? You might be thinking it's the creepy guy who lives down the street from you. Ask the experts, and they'll tell you. These are schoolteachers and policemen and doctors and you-name-it. Everyday people. Most likely someone you know. The problem is hidden in plain view. Changing laws might certainly help. But laws get broken every day. We could take some time to talk about the climate in society which fuels this sort of demand. The objectification of women, and the sexually hyper-charged society in which we live that creates demand and then presents this as, as some sort of option. Ultimately, this is a problem of the human heart.
You see, there's another kind of slavery. Let the Apostle Paul explain in Romans 6:16. "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness"? Thankfully, there's a way out. Verses 17 and 18: "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness". Now, notice: The Bible says that those who are the slaves of sin the King James uses the word "servants" those who are slaves of sin are slaves of the one they have chosen to serve.
See, ultimately, sin is a choice. It might not always feel like that. It might feel that it's less of a choice if you've become accustomed to living a life of sin, and more a matter of being on autopilot. But the Bible is clear. You can choose to be either the slave of sin or the slave of righteousness. Romans 6, verse 20. "For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness". And verse 22. "But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life".
So a person who is the slave of sin can become instead the slave of righteousness. The servant of righteousness. A person can learn to love doing right as much as he or she ever loved committing sin. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, Paul speaks to a group of people who were adulterers and fornicators and idolators and thieves and drunkards and so forth and he says this to them in verse 11, "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God". That's what God can do for you. If you let Him. And so it's right to hope and pray and work that those who are caught in the grip of human trafficking find liberation, freedom, find hope in their lives. And if you're caught in spiritual slavery, you can find that same hope and liberation and freedom through Jesus Christ. Because "If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed".