Home Sweet Home

Well, I am back in Nepal right now. And it feels ramro cha to be back! Stepping off the plane was like coming home. For those of you two don't know my father has never been to Nepal before and made the "mistake" of saying to me, "I feel like there is a part of you I do not understand since I have never seen Nepal before, so if you plan a trip I will get us there." BAM! Itinerary in his inbox the next day :) Needless to say we have been having a great time.
Nepal is cold, of course, but the people make it warm and it has been a delight to introduce my father to the many friends I have here.
On the day we landed Kumar met us at the airport to give us a ride into Thamel and get us all situated. He has always had a huge hand in anything that has taken place on my previous trips here so it was good for my father to meet him - and so good to be able to see him again and catch up. As we drove the crowded streets of Nepal one of my father's first comments was "they sure like to honk their horns here!" - haah! It was only the beginning I told him. We grabbed dinner at the Rumdoodle and called it a night.
On the 14th we headed to the Leper Colony that I visit each time I am here so I could introduce my father to Igeio - one of my favorite people on the face of the planet. I have to admit each time I travel there I get a bit nervous that he might not be there - his health continues to deteriate each time I see him. But he was there and was looking good. I was able to spend a good amount of time with him and my father was able to see the colony, meet Igeio and see the church. We spent the rest of the day walking around hanging out with many of the street kids and rickshaw drivers I am lucky to call friend. My father was able to meet Rita, Sangita, Maya, Raju, Mr Om, Casey, Saroj, and many more!!
On the 15th we arose EARLY in the morning and took a sightseeing flight with Yeti Airlines over Everest. It was BEAUTIFUL. Pictures did not capture and words will not be able to describe. And I got to see Everest from the cockpit of the plane. It was an exciting expereience. We then grabbed some breakfast at the Mandap Guest House which is where the Peak Performance teams eat breakfast each morning when they are in Nepal. We got to eat sitting next to a wood burning fire and of course enjoyed the hilarious company of our favorite Nepali waiter! When we got back we were able to hook up with Harka - a friend from back home in California. He is working on his doctoral studies in El Monte which is real near Pasadena. He is back in Kathmandu for about a month to check up on his family a ministry. It was fun to see him in Nepal and actually visit the ministry I get to hear so often about. I was able to meet the many kids that are a part of his orphanage and then visit the church that he pastors. We also took a walk over the the plot of land that they have purchased with the hopes of building a church and then one day a school on. His wife cooked my father and I a delicious meal of dal baht!! It was a wonderful afternoon. We shopped a bit in the afternoon and ended our day with dinner at the Roadhouse.
And now today my father and I will take a car to Nagarkot for a little R&R. I hope we get a good view of the beautiful mountains. It has been great weather so far so I am hopeful. We have many more exciting meetings when we return to Kathmandu and then as we move into Bangkok and Popiet. I'll be sure to fill you in on it all - including some thoughts and reflections on why I love Nepal, the needs in Nepal and the tensions I feel in my heart.


Israel's Sex Trafficking Crisis

The BBC researches a story about a young girl "Marina." Marina rarely leaves her two-room home in northern Israel these days.

She is in hiding - wanted by the Israeli authorities for being an illegal immigrant, and by the criminal gangs who brought her here to sell her into prostitution.

Marina - not her real name - was lured to Israel by human traffickers.

During the height of the phenomenon, from the beginning of the 1990s to the early years of 2000, an estimated 3,000 women a year were brought to Israel on the false promise of jobs and a better way of life.

"When I was in the Ukraine, I had a difficult life," said Marina, who came to Israel in 1999 at the age of 33 after answering a newspaper advertisement offering the opportunity to study abroad.

"I was taken to an apartment in Ashkelon, and other women there told me I was now in prostitution. I became hysterical, but a guy starting hitting me and then others there raped me.

"I was then taken to a place where they sold me - just sold me!" she said, recalling how she was locked in a windowless basement for a month, drank water from a toilet and was deprived of food.

That part of her ordeal only ended when she managed to escape, but the physical and mental scars remain.

Last year, the United Nations named Israel as one of the main destinations in the world for trafficked women; it has also consistently appeared as an offender in the annual US State Department's Trafficking in Persons (Tip) report.

While this year's report said Israel was making "significant efforts" to eliminate trafficking, it said it still does not "fully comply with the minimum standards" to do so.

Like Marina, some trafficked women are brought into the country legally, while others are smuggled by Bedouins across the border from Egypt.

In all cases, the traffickers - as many as 20 in the chain from recruitment to sale - take away the women's passports before selling them on to pimps.

Sometimes the women are subjected to degrading human auctions, where they are stripped, examined and sold for $8,000-$10,000.

Sanctions threat

Prostitution in Israel is legal, but pimping and maintaining a brothel are not.

The law however is not widely enforced and few brothels are closed down.

In Tel Aviv's Neve Shaanan district for instance, just a short walk from the city's five-star tourist hotels, brothels masquerading as massage parlors, saunas and even internet cafes, fill the streets.

One such place even operates opposite the local police station.

There are bars on windows and heavily-built men guard the doors, which are only opened to let customers in and out.

Inside, groups of sullen-looking women sit in dimly-lit rooms, waiting for their next client.

Foreign women fetch the highest prices, with trafficked women forced to work up to 18 hours a day.

For years, the absence of anti-trafficking laws in Israel meant such activity - less risky and often more profitable than trafficking drugs or arms - went unchecked.

"During the first 10 years of trafficking, Israel did absolutely nothing," said Nomi Levenkron, of the Migrant Workers' Hotline, an NGO which helps trafficked women and puts pressure on the state to act.

"Women were trafficked into Israel - the first case we uncovered was in 1992 - and not much really happened," she said.

"Occasionally traffickers were brought to trial, but the victims were arrested as well, they were forced to testify, and then they were deported."

In 2000, trafficking for sexual exploitation was made a crime but the punishments were light and its implementation was poor, NGOs say.

It was only after repeated criticism of Israel by the United States - and the threat of sanctions - that authorities began to act.

Investigations into suspected traffickers increased, stiff jail terms were handed down and Israel's borders were tightened against people smuggling.

Changing tactics

Campaigners say things began to change for the better in 2004, when the government opened a shelter in north Tel Aviv for women who had been trafficked for sex.

It marked a change in the way the state perceived them - as victims of a crime rather than accomplices.

There are some 30 women at the Maggan shelter - most from former Soviet states, but also five from China.

"When they come here they are in a bad condition," said Rinat Davidovich, the shelter's director.

"Most have sexual diseases and some have hepatitis and even tuberculosis. They also have problems going to sleep because they remember what used to happen to them at night," she said.

"It's very hard and it's a long procedure to start to help and treat them."

Police say their actions have led to a significant drop in the number of women now being trafficked into Israel for sex - hundreds, rather than thousands, a year - and they say the women's working environment has improved too.

"There is a significant change in the conditions that the women are being held in," said anti-trafficking police chief Raanan Caspi.

"In 2003 we used to find women who were being raped, incarcerated and suffering violence. In 2007, the situation is completely different - they get paid in most cases and the conditions that they're in are much more humane."

But the true picture might not be so clear-cut.

Campaigners say increased police activity has also had an adverse effect. Instead of operating openly in brothels, traffickers have become more discreet, playing their trade in private apartments and escort agencies, making the practice more difficult to detect.

"We've been keeping tabs on trends, in terms of, for instance, prices of exploitative services," said Yedida Wolfe, of the Task Force on Human Trafficking.

"Those prices have not gone up, which leads us to believe that the supply of victims has gone down."

"While government officials are saying that their efforts have drastically cut the number of victims in the country, the NGOs on the scene really don't feel that's true."

Israel might well have turned a corner in its fight against the traffickers, but the battle is far from won.



Last night was another great night out in Compton (Lynwood). It was Daryl, Laurie, Ty, Sarah, Naomie and myself. It was really really cold so I was uncertain of how many girls we were actually going to see. By the end of the night we were able to meet up with 7 different girls, some guys and a couple cops. They were all out pretty early and then everyone disappeared so we got out of there around 5:00a.
Right when we got there, Sarah and I saw several girls across the street so we ran over to chat with them. One beautiful young girl named T said she would love a gift bag and then said, “are you handing our prayers tonight”? OF COURSE! While we were talking to her two other women came up. We gave them bags and asked if they wanted to join us in praying. They didn’t want to share their names but God knows their name. The five of us huddled up and prayed together for protection, peace and provision.
As Sarah and I crossed the street again we came across a 17-year old girl named M. She told us she has only been on the street for ONE WEEK! Of course we were curious what drove her to this and why she was out here, “I ain’t got nobody but myself and the street right now. I just gotta make a way.” It is so difficult when you run into girls time and time again with such a lack of options – or what they feel is a lack of options. It is wonderful to be able to enter in and provide some resources should they choose to take them. We chatted with her a bit more about being out there and her pimp. She talked to us about one pimp L that we have actually met before that is crazy. He will just pull over on the side of the road get out and yell or grab the girls. She was pretty surprised we had talked with him before “was he pimpin’ you?” No, we just had a nice conversation when he was pulled over to the side of the road. We didn’t see him last night – but will keep our eyes open in the next couple of weeks. M didn’t want a bag but said she would like some prayer so the three of us huddled up and prayed for M to find the provision she needs to be able to stop doing this. That God would bring some people into her life that could speak wisdom into her, provide for her and truly love her.
Pretty soon after our conversation with M some cops pulled up next to us, “what’s going on here?” I guess it is pretty strange to see a group just walking around at 3:30 in the morning. Laurie was the one to go over to the car and talk to the two officers about why we were out here. One of them ended up being a Christian as well so started letting us know where the transvestites were as well as some of the pimps and what kind of car they drive. After about a 10 min. conversation they went on their way and we began out walk down the street.
We split up into two groups since there were six of us. Daryl, Sarah and I crossed the street again to see what girls we might run into. Not too far down the street we caught up with T and Tt. T I had seen several weeks ago but had not been out lately. She told us she has been in jail for the last couple of weeks and could really use some prayer. “I guess prayer doesn’t keep you out of jail. But while I was there I decided I needed to go to church so I just went ANYWHERE and after I went I got out the next day.” It was good to catch up with her a bit and be able to pray for her. Tt didn’t want a bag either but chatted with us a bit about why we were out there. “You all rollin’ 6 deep – I bet there are even more of you we don’t see!”
After that we waked around for a little while longer and after seeing no girls decided to hop in the car and drive down the strip. We didn’t see anymore girls out – everyone had disappeared – so we decided to head back to Hollywood.
Although we did not run into too many girls it was still a great night out. I love seeing the same girls week after week and continuing to build that foundation they need to truly trust you and talk to you about where they are at. Just two weeks ago (which I forgot to every write about) I ran into P again. As soon as she saw me she said, “There’s my girl! How you been?” I gave her a big hug and asked how she had been the last week. She then proceeded to tell me her real name rather than her street name and we had a great time of catching up.
God’s moving – sometimes slower than I would like – but I am so thankful he lets me be a small part of it!


For Richer or Poorer

This was written by a beautiful young lady, Karlynn, after her first experience in Nepal. She went as one of my students the summer of 2002.


I am an American, my fellow American’s wouldn’t consider me wealthy, but at my current resident, I am of great prestige. I’ve always wanted that. Unfortunately, here in Nepal, money has a stench greater than the lack of.
A dark salesman tries to teach me a lesson. He waves his product and renders me guilty for not purchasing.
A flock of Tibetan women wave their thick heavily jeweled hands and flail their sharply accented English in a mad attempt to make the almighty buck.
A heard of children tug on my clothing “you have sweet?” Their soiled mouths cry out. I didn’t ask for this!
This was not in the brochure! I…I…didn’t ask for…for a lesson. Suddenly, I’m vowed to poverty, and it only cost me three easy payments of $999.99 and my youth pastors signature!
My windy weeps of worthless unwillingness register whining. “Oh Poor Me! Oh pity me! My pain is so great and that of the unbearable.”
OR sometimes I am too quick to judge. “I would never cheat stupid Americans out of their money.
OR I would teach my children manners.
OR I would be reluctant to…
Or – Or – Or…
I saw a starving child today. Not a poor dirty child, but a starving child. His little belly hung like that of a bloated pregnant woman’s. His face was crusted with sickness. His eyes were yellow, his fingernails were speckled. An urgency to get this kid some food came over me. But you can’t give a starving child blow pops and fruit snacks.
I found myself disgusted wit his mother. Why wasn’t she getting work? How did she get cigarettes but not food? Where is her husband?
But I’ve never had to survive the off-season, when tourism is low and rains are high. I’ve never had to sell cheap jewelry. I’ve never had to decide between cigarettes and food.
I didn’t ask for this! I didn’t want to learn a lesson! Not this lesson! I didn’t ask to get this knowledge – I didn’t know what I was trading!
And when I get back to my hometown, I’ll use this little trick I learned.
“Madame, Madame? You remember me? I have something for you. Come look. Looking free. We swap, yes?”
You give me your ignorance, and I’ll finally be rid of this knowledge.


Open My Heart

Father open, open up my heart
This tender part of me – I don’t think can stand another break
But Father, open, open up my heart
Bring some people in that can help me grow again

If pain is a part of this, I just might quit, it might be too hard
That will just enforce my self-reliance upon you.
I don’t need anyone else to help me though

The times that I’ve been wounded are the times I’ve trusted most
I don’t know what you think you were teaching me
I only drew in further to my cocoon

It’s just a lot easier to give love than to receive it
Cause then I get to be the stronger one.
I open up someone else’s heart and learn to listen well
There’s much less chance of hurting if my mouth just stays shut

Father open, open up my heart
I beg you to come in and restore this flesh again
So Father, open, open up my heart
Abuse it if it helps – just know I might walk away again


An investigation into a Europe-wide child pornography network has led to 92 arrests across eight countries, prosecutors say

This was a report from a BBC article that came out today.

The network made videos of children being abused and sold them to 2,500 customers in 19 countries, says the European police force, Europol.

The films were mainly produced in Ukraine, Belgium and the Netherlands, and most of the victims were Ukrainian.

More than 40 of the arrests were made in Britain, European prosecutors say.

Police have seized thousands of computers, videos and photographs in their investigation - code named Operation Koala.

The investigation began in July 2006, when police in Australia found a video on the internet showing an adult abusing two young girls.

The girls were identified by police in Belgium and the offender, their father, was arrested.

He in turn led investigators to the producer of the video, an Italian man who operated in Belgium and the Netherlands but also owned a studio in Ukraine.

'Tailor made'

The names of 2,500 customers were recovered from his computer.

An analyst for Europol, Menno Hagemeijer, said the customers came from many different countries and all walks of life.

"We have identified schoolteachers, swimming instructors, lawyers, IT specialists," he said.

Mr Hagemeijer said the videos had been "tailor made", with customers ordering specific acts to be performed by specific children.

Twenty-three children aged between nine and 16 who were shown being abused have been identified. Twenty-one are from Ukraine and two from Belgium.

European prosecutors have stressed that the operation is continuing and there are likely to be further arrests.


Outreach This Weekend

I went on outreach with Pimps and Prostitutes again this weekend– and it was great…again. Laurie always does such great write-up’s of our evenings out. I should just copy and paste her summaries…I practically do that anyway…but I do make a few changes, add some of my thoughts – put in some thoughts from my point of view. So, here’s the happenings of this weekend ☺

This weekend it was just myself, Ty, Daryl and Laurie. The evening started out with a stop at the 7-11 for some coffee…and I got BLUEBERRY! That’s right. I didn’t even know they made blueberry coffee but they do. Laurie and I both got it and it was actually goooood!

We went to Compton again - and when we got there, we once again saw several cops patrolling (never a good sign for outreach) so the streets were pretty barren. As we pulled over we saw one highway patrol car pulled over talking to girl on a street corner. Once they had finished talking the girl disappeared down the street.

We parked anyway, grabbed some gift bags and started down the street...right away we saw two girls. Laurie and I walked up to chat with them - their names were 'P' and 'A'. A said she'd been prostituting for about 2 years – she didn’t have a pimp because she has a 10 year old son at home and can’t afford to have any of her money going to a dude. She ran into some 'bad times' a couple years back so she moved out her to LA and started prostituting. A is beautiful!!

P asked us what church we were from – I told her that we weren’t really out here representing any particular church but that I go to Ecclesia. She then proceeded to say, "You go to church and you have a piercing?" pointing at my nose ring. I laughed and proceeded to tell her about my tattoos and the fact that Laurie had even more piercings and tattoos then I have!! P seemed surprised. As Laurie said, I wish we would have had more of an opportunity to share the difference between religion and relationship but the girls were in a hurry to leave after one of them got a phone call. They thanked us for the purses and goodies we gave them.

After walking down the street a bit more Laurie began to turn a corner and I could not figure out why but then we saw another girl…sometimes I was so BAD at spotting people late at night ☺ “D” was hesitant to take anything from us or really talk to us much - and then her pimp drove by us and she said, "Oh no - my daddy just drove by - he's gonna kick my ass." She said that she had to go - and we let her go - and just prayed after she left - that her pimp wouldn't harm her. I am going to be honest that it still really frustrates me and I don’t really get it why pimps won’t let their girls talk to other people on the street. I mean…I guess when I really think about it the whole reason we are out there is to give these girls a way OUT – so I guess the pimps would not really want them talking to us. But that just seems so oppressive and constraining. It really frustrates me.

We got back in the car and decided to drive up and down the strip a bit more trying to see if we could find any more girls. After driving only a little while I spotted Y – the 17-year-old girl I told you about last time! So we pulled over and parked. We went to talk to Y and another girl but hardly got a few words out before a black SUV with nice rims turned the corner, parked and two guys got out. By the looks of it - Laurie assumed that the guys were pimps (I am still so new at this, I had no clue! – I could just tell that Y and her friend were NOT excited to see them!) As they got closer, however, Laurie thought they might be gangbangers…She got excited – she has a real heart for gangbangers. So we went across the street – partly because we wanted to talk to these guys and find out what they were all about, but also because we wanted to intercept (distract) them before they started meeting with Y and her friend who were now trying to dart across traffic in their heels to get away from them.

Laurie and I went over and began talking to them. The rest of our evening pretty much was spent talking to them. It was actually a pretty hilarious scene. “J” as he called himself and Laurie were comparing gunshot scars. J kept insisting that he believed in “God, Jesus Christ and the virgin Mary and prayed to them in the shower, driving, taking a shit, all the time – you don’t even know” J was pretty drunk and kept repeating himself. He also could not figure out why we were out there. He kept “hugging” Daryl which later Daryl said that he thinks that he was just patting them down - to make sure they weren't cops or something. Daryl said that he felt the small of Daryl's back and sides looking for a gun or something…

He kept asking us "Are you for real, homie? Are you for real?" He asked that probably 172893719874328170348 times. He ended up bringing Laurie $20 from his car and saying he wanted to donate that to the ministry for Bibles or whatever they needed it for. "No man - I want to give you guys this - because - are you guys for real, man? Because I mean, you guys are coming out here, to Compton - risking your lives – nobody does that - you're coming out here for nothing - I mean, not for nothing - but man - you guys are real, huh?" Haah! He said that he was being a hypocrite right then cause he was about to go and get even more drunk and he did not live a very Christian lifestyle but he thought was we were doing was great.

He finally let Laurie pray for him after a while. Afterwards he began commenting, "You guys are for real, huh - man - I need someone to check on me - to call me and talk to me..." Laurie gave him her number and after MANY tries, got his number - he was so drunk he couldn't get his number right - finally I grabbed his phone and got the number and then entered Laurie’s into his.

The rest of our time in Compton was pretty much spent with these two guys with the exception of one girl “J” that I got to talk to for just a brief moment. I saw her so I ran across the street with a couple of bags to see if she wanted one. She was hesitant to take one and in the end refused. She said she has only been prostituting for two WEEKS. Didn’t really have a good reason why and was pretty apathetic about the whole thing.

I really love doing this outreach – but it is also very difficult. It is tough having to meet up with the same girls week after week and not be able to take them out of these situations. But God is faithful – and I believe that these women need to know pure unconditional human love before they will be able to experience or truly know the love of the divine.


Sri Lanka has promised to look into allegations that 108 of its UN peacekeepers in Haiti paid for sex, in some cases with underage girls

I just found this article on the BBC News this morning - disturbing.


The men are being sent home after being accused of sexual misconduct and abuse.

Officials say the law will take its course once the soldiers arrive back in Sri Lanka, but warn that little tangible evidence has been produced.

In the past, UN peacekeepers have been involved in a series of sex scandals, including this year in Ivory Coast.

'Zero tolerance'

Sri Lanka has sent four senior officers, including a female brigadier, to Haiti to investigate.

Sri Lanka's Foreign Secretary, Dr Palitha Kohona, said the allegations against the soldiers were a blight on what he described as the country's stunningly good record in United Nations peacekeeping.

He added though that little tangible evidence had been provided by the United Nations, which might make it difficult to bring them before a court.

The UN mission in Haiti has requested an immediate investigation by the organization's internal watchdog.

The UN has a "zero tolerance" policy on peacekeepers visiting prostitutes, regardless of local laws.

Spokeswoman Michele Montas said: "The United Nations and the Sri Lankan government deeply regret any sexual exploitation and abuse that has occurred.

"The [soldiers] are back under national jurisdiction. So far Sri Lanka has said... that they are going to be prosecuted in Sri Lanka."

Earlier this year more than 700 peacekeepers in Ivory Coast were suspended and in recent years, peacekeepers in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have also been accused of sexual exploitation.

Member states are supplying about 100,000 troops to peacekeeping operations worldwide.

The 950-strong peacekeeping operation in Haiti is the first to which Sri Lanka has sent a full contingent of troops, although some officers have joined earlier missions.


So Much More

Everyone feels, at one point or another, the inadequacy of his or her mediocre life. We hear the echoes of these inconsistencies and doubts via many facets of life. Through music; “we were meant to live for so much more” by Switchfoot, or in movies like “The Lord of the Rings”:

Sam: …Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

Where do these ideas of what this life is supposed to look like come from? And why, in most cases, when we stop and pause to reflect on life, are we only disappointed in where we have come and where we are going? Confusion about what this life is supposed to be seems more common than satisfaction in a life well lived.

Everything finds its meaning from its place in the story (thanks Brian McLaren). Significance comes not in any solitary moment or experience but within the context of seized opportunities. We need a paradigm shift in the mind of individuals about what it means to live life well and “have it together.” We live in a fast-paced, action-packed society that thrives off results. When individuals aren’t getting results, only participating in events/services/projects for the “satisfaction of taking part,” discouragement will soon settle in and make itself at home.

This becomes especially difficult when it comes to efforts like social justice. We won’t often see results – oppression, poverty, slavery and sexual exploitation aren’t just going to go away. This is a ceaseless fight – and I get tired, we get tired, and we long for results. But sometimes that is not what it is about. It’s about being faithful, doing what you are called to do – what you know you should do, loving the other, and seizing opportunities despite the outcome.

Sam’s right – there is some good in this world, and that good is worth fighting for. So what is your part in the story?


Weep with Me

a poem by kristin keen
about nepal and india's sexually exploited girls
i could not have put it into words that more beautifully expressed what my heart feels.


come and see, LORD.
come and weep with me.

come and see their faces
painted with cheap make-up.
see the tenderness in their worn-out eyes.

weep with me
over torn flesh
and broken hearts.

weep with me, Jesus
over girls trapped by fear.

weep with me for the mothers
who have lost their daughters.

weep with me over your princesses
who are treated like whores.

weep with me
so that i know You are with them.

weep with me
so that i know their suffering isn't forgotten.

weep with me
because when You weep, it gives me hope.

Your tears bring the safe places
where the suffering of the world can reside.

Your tears give me and the girls a place to put
our doubt,
our rage,
our isolation,
our fears.

come and see, Jesus.
come and weep with me.


Pimps and Prostitutes

I have been beginning to go out on outreaches with an organization “Pimps and Prostitutes”  in the LA area. It has been a really great (and eye-opening) experience for me. Often in seminary I struggle with the tension of being “wasted space.” I get frustrated with learning and become anxious to being DOING. That is, after all, the whole reason I am in seminary. So being able to find this organization has been a blessing – being able to participate in the ministry to which God has fueled my heart. It is not easy outreach, but I love it.

Just a couple weeks ago we decided to go out to the Compton area – when we first got there we saw about four cop cars driving down the main strip which we took as a bad sign…we would not find many girls out. Boy were we wrong in our first assumption that they would not be out because of the cop cars!! It turns out there was a drug bust going on at one end of town so all the girls were down at the opposite end. We probably ran into around 20 girls that night.

Right as we got out of the car and began to walk down the street we ran into a girl J. When she saw me she immediately said “Nope, I don’t need no prayer tonight!” It is funny that they know exactly why we are there – have seen us before – and are open to talking with us. I asked her if she just wanted a gift bag…”alright, I could do a little prayer with a gift bag” she responds. Several girls we ran into that night seemed very glad to see us “Just tonight I felt Jesus saying I best stop running away from him and then YOU show up – I need prayer tonight!” What a gift to step into the midst of their life, in the midst of this work to pray for them and love on them. These women are BEAUTIFUL and articulate and funny and intelligent. It is frustrating to see them turning tricks when I know they were made for so much more.

As we were talking to several of the girls a few pimps drove up. They didn’t seem the real friendly type – one was named “silky fresh”….nice…and the girls literally ran across the street in their stiletto heels to get away from him. He was not real open to talking with us…but there was another van full of pimps that Laurie was able to have a conversation with. It is always interesting to get the different pimps perspectives, most believe they are doing the girls a favor by being their pimp – that they are out there protecting them.

What I find interesting is that most of the pimps or prostitutes you speak to will tell you that they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ “this is just something I have to do right now – I ain’t going to be in it for long – just real quick to make some cash then I am out!” But you hear this story over and over again, they all intend to get out but they all get trapped. One particular girl we met named M was 29 years old and had only been doing this for two weeks. She was really deceiving herself...she had convinced herself that as soon as she made enough money for her kids she'd stop. She said she could not get a real job because she was on probation and no one would give her one. We talked with her for a while and even prayed with her but the whole time she seemed very uncomfortable and resistant.

It was a very eventful night. God is moving...but it is difficult because most of these young people have no conviction for what they're doing or have deceived themselves into thinking it is ok.

There was a 17 year old girl we ran into that night named Y who ended up calling Laurie later in the week. Laurie talked with her for a while about her work as a prostitute, about Jesus and about her pimp. She lives with her pimp not her parents, and is aloud to leave the house. Laurie said she got the impression that Y was not with the pimp by choice, but more by force or lack of options…we are not really sure. Laurie asked her if her pimp abuses her and she gave a nervous laugh and a breeze over answer.

Laurie ended up asking her if she wanted to get out of prostitution and she said she was not ready yet but would keep Laurie’s number. Laurie wrote about this in an email she sent out and I think her email beautifully articulates the tension we so often run into with this sort of outreach…

So... all I can do is pray for her and pray that she'll have the guts to get out and away from her pimp sometime soon. I hope so. I hope that we will see her again when we're out on the street. If we do, I want to ask her if she wants us to take her off the street,
right then and there. She's a minor - her 18th birthday is in April of next year. Maybe Children of the Night could take her... I don't know. All I know is that if she wants to get out of there, I want to be able to get her out.

How does something like this work? I mean - we can't take her to a program like the Dream Center unless we get her parents permission - and we ourselves could get in trouble for keeping a minor... sheesh. I don't want the cops to pick her up either, or have her get taken to a home where things may be just as bad if not worse than where she is now. Or if she ends up back with her pimp if we take her somewhere where they can't help her or where she ends up leaving and she goes back to him - the consequences could be fatal.


What are the ethics in this situation? How far is too far? Doesn’t someone like Y deserve to be helped…even if she is a minor? Why is social justice, love for the oppressed, and care for others so gray?


Thais arrest pedophile suspect

[19 October 2007] A Canadian pedophile suspect who was the subject of a global manhunt has been arrested in Thailand.

Police tracked down 32-year-old teacher Christopher Paul Neil in north-east Thailand. They suspect him of appearing in 200 online images of child abuse.

Mr Neil, who faces 20 years in jail if convicted, was brought to a news briefing, but did not answer questions.

Mr Neil was picked up by officers on Friday morning in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima, 250 km (150 miles) north-east of the capital, Bangkok.

He was driven to the Thai capital where he was paraded in handcuffs in front of gathered journalists at a police station.

The BBC's Chris Hogg, in Bangkok, said there were chaotic scenes as Mr Neil was led into the building, with police having to fend off a scrum of reporters and photographers.

Police chiefs said he was suspected of abusing at least 12 youngsters - at least one said to be under 10 years old.

The arrest follows lengthy efforts to identify a man seen in more than 200 online images of alleged sexual abuse involving young boys.

Officers now believe the Canadian might have abused boys in Thailand as well as in Vietnam and Cambodia - and he could face charges in any of those countries.

He could also be charged in Canada, which has laws allowing for the prosecution of its nationals for child-sex crimes committed abroad.

Thai police have appealed for more victims to come forward and indicated he would be charged in Thailand, but they did not rule out the possibility of extradition.


Possessing child porn becomes a criminal offense

[PRAGUE, 18 October 2007] - Czech President Vaclav Klaus has signed a bill that makes possession of child pornography a felony punishable by up to two years in prison, the president's spokesman Petr Hajek said in a statement.

The lower house first approved the bill last June outlawing possession of child pornography. The bill was struck down by the upper house in August. The lower house then overruled the Senate vote in September.

While producing and selling child pornography is a crime in the Czech Republic, possessing such images was not.

That became evident earlier this year after Austrian authorities caught a ring that had provided pedophiles worldwide with child porn online.

The ring's clients in the Czech Republic could not be prosecuted since possession of child pornography was not illegal.


Update on child educator

Just yesterday I posted a story about a search for child educator that was shown sexually abusing children on the internet - here is an update on that case:


[16 October 2007] An international manhunt has been launched after Thai police named a suspected pedophile as Christopher Paul Neil, a 32-year-old Canadian.

Authorities in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are searching for Mr Neil, of British Columbia, who allegedly appears in 200 online images abusing boys.

He studied to become a priest and was a youth counselor before moving to Asia.

His younger brother, Matthew Neil, said his family was "in shock" and appealed for Mr Neil to turn himself in.

Interpol had appealed for public help after experts unscrambled digitally-swirled internet photos of the suspect.

It was the first time the international police agency had made a direct worldwide appeal for public information in a case.

Extradition order

Interpol said the suspect had flown from South Korea - where he was working as an English teacher - to Thailand last week.

Border guards in the three South-East Asian countries were on alert after the suspect arrived in Bangkok from the South Korean capital, Seoul, on a one-way, full-fare ticket last week, said Interpol officer Mick Moran, who is leading the manhunt.

The Canadian had given a false address on his Thai immigration form, he said.

Kim Scanlan, from the Toronto police child exploitation unit, said Mr Neil would be extradited to Canada upon his arrest.

Thai police believe the suspect is still in Thailand, Colonel Apichart Suribunya told Associated Press news agency.

They are also searching for children he allegedly abused and took photos of, said Interpol's chief in Thailand, Panaspong Sirawongse.

Mr Panaspong said Mr Neil had worked at an international school in Thailand between 2003 and 2004.

"There were three boys he had abused. One boy has been identified and is being sought, two others have not been identified," he said.

Interpol released a security camera image of the man arriving at Bangkok airport on 11 October.

"All the countries in this region have all been alerted - they're all on alert and they all have border controls in place in an effort to spot the movements of this man," Mr Moran said.

He added: "I have no doubt that he left Korea when he saw himself on the internet."

'Mother devastated'

Canada's CBC reported that Mr Neil studied to become a priest before leaving for Asia.

He also worked as a military chaplain and youth counselor for children aged between 12 and 18 from 1998 to 2000 at a cadet training centre in Nova Scotia, said Capt Hope Carr, a Canadian military spokesman.

No complaints about Mr Neil were received during that time, Capt Carr said.

Matthew Neil, 30, said Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) told his family of the allegations against his brother last week.

"My mother is devastated and the family is in shock," he said from the family home in Maple Ridge, in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

"We're co-operating with RCMP and Interpol. We're hoping this comes to a quick close."

Identity puzzle

Internet photographs of the suspect show him apparently abusing 12 boys in Vietnam and Cambodia.

The first pictures were found three years ago in Germany. They had been manipulated to disguise the man's face with a swirl pattern, but German computer specialists produced identifiable images that were posted on Interpol's website a week ago.

After an appeal for information, the suspect was identified by five different sources from three continents as a man teaching English at a school in South Korea, Interpol said.

Police then established his name, nationality, date of birth, passport number and current and previous places of work.


Now this seems to counter the last article we just wrote: this guy abused the trust he was given in working with children. It is these exceptions that make it so difficult.

Adults scared to work with children

Although the issue of human trafficking is a hugely significant one - it is terribly tragic that such an issue would cause individuals to fear interaction with and care for children because of the accusations that could possibly be placed upon them. As the following article shows - research in Scotland has shown adults fear interaction with children because of the labels or accusation that could be falsely put upon them.


[16 October 2007] - Adults are often too scared to work with young people for fear of being branded a pedophile, according to a new report.

A survey by Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People revealed that the fear of being accused of harming young people was the main deterrent.

Kathleen Marshall's study found a shortage of adults prepared to take work roles and volunteering posts.

More than 1,100 people took part in the detailed survey.

Some 48 percent of adults surveyed said fear of being falsely accused of causing harm was a barrier to contact with children and young people.

This same fear also made adults much less likely to help when they saw a young person in danger or distress.

The report also revealed that adults who work with young people in structured environments tend to have positive attitudes towards them, and enjoy seeing children and young people develop through their involvement.

However, people reported much more negative attitudes to meeting young people in informal groups, especially in large groups on the street.

According to the report, fear was largely fueled by media reporting rather than people's personal knowledge of young people.

Other concerns included fear of young people themselves, and concerns about bureaucracy and the culture of litigation.

'Social behavior'

Women are almost twice as likely to have formal contact with children and young people, either as a volunteer or through work, the survey showed.

Men in particular reported being afraid of being falsely accused of being a pedophile which they described as "the worst thing imaginable".

Men are also disproportionately less likely to approach a lost child and try to help.

Ms Marshall said: "Young people consistently tell us they want safe and fun things to do and that anti-social behavior is a result of a shortage of opportunities for 'social behavior'.

"The activities they want to take part in need adults to volunteer and support them and this report shows exactly why that isn't happening.

Potential volunteers

"We need to help bridge the divide between the generations and establish a framework for attractive activities that are stimulating, safe and fun for all involved.

"I hope this report will start a full public debate about how that should be done, and everyone who has ever worked with young people or considered doing so has something to contribute to that debate, as do Scotland's young people themselves."

George Thomson, chief executive of Volunteer Development Scotland, said that potential volunteers needed greater support.

He added: "We must now have the conviction and courage to overcome the challenges and find ways to take up the offer of voluntary help from adults in a way that benefits everyone."

John Loughton, chair of Scottish Youth Parliament, said that both adults and young people should feel safe, without "wrapping either of them in cotton wool".

So what do you think can be done? How can we effectively utilize adults in our communities while still keeping our children safe and not alienating those who step into the gap of loving those in our world who need love the most?


Child educator shown sexually abusing children in internet pictures

The BBC reports that police conducting a worldwide hunt for a man shown sexually abusing children in internet pictures believe he is a teacher of English now in Thailand.

The possible identification of the man, seen in about 200 images depicting abuse, comes after Interpol released a photograph of the suspect.

The pictures of the man were digitally altered but police computer specialists have produced identifiable images.

Police said they may have been taken in Vietnam and Cambodia in 2002 and 2003.

The suspected child abuser was identified by five different sources from three continents as a man teaching English at a school in South Korea, Interpol said

His name, nationality, date of birth, passport number, and current and previous places of work have also been established, according to the international police organisation.

'All other means'

Interpol said that on Thursday the man flew from Seoul to Bangkok International Airport, where his image was captured by security cameras.

The man seen, apparently abusing 12 boys in a number of images, was a danger to children while he remained at large.

The international police organisation launched its unprecedented global public appeal last week, after trying "all other means" to identify the man.

It said more than 200 people had responded to their appeal.

Interpol database

The first pictures of the man were found three years ago in Germany and the search for the suspect had been codenamed Operation Vico.

The pictures had been manipulated to disguise the man's face with a swirl pattern, but computer specialists at Germany's federal police agency, the BKA, worked with Interpol's human trafficking team to produce identifiable images.

Interpol maintains a database of 520,000 images of child sex abuse submitted by 36 member states.

Using sophisticated software, investigators have identified and rescued nearly 600 victims from 31 countries.


Outreach Opportunity

I hope to inform you more in the future about opportunities that exist for you to become more involved in abolishing human trafficking. For now, I will let you know about one that is coming up in just a few days. (October 17th)
As some of you may or may not know, The Salvation Army is doing great work in the advocacy and combating of human trafficking. Here is just one opportunity for those who are looking to get more involved. The Salvation Army has outreach teams that go out into Hollywood, LA and other surrounding cities once a week (you can go out that often or even less if time doesn't permit you to commit that much). Their goal is to begin recognizing the signs of human trafficking and then begin to build contacts and relationships in order to stop the trafficking that exists here in our city.
They are holding a training on October 17th for those interested in becoming apart of an outreach team. If you go to this training you will be taught how to recognize signs of trafficking, some questions to ask a potential trafficked victim, and the steps to take in order to assist victims of human trafficking. I encourage you to go if it is at all possible.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you have, or if there is a specific type of ministry you are wanting to get involved in. WanderingellimaC@gmail.com


Causes of Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking

When looking at the causes of CSET many people will jump to poverty, lack of options, lack of education and deceit. Although these are circumstances that help to perpetuate the cycle – they do not CAUSE them. We must look deeper to find the foundation and the causes of CSET. By no means could I provide for you an exhaustive – or even adequate – list of causes. I only mean to expose and discuss a few:
Demand. This can morph itself in many different avenues and forms: lust, economic gain, greed, need for power, addiction, desire and control, and abuse of power. All of these types of demand can be addictive – drawing – beckoning a person to greater and greater depths of exploitative behavior. We will later explore in greater depth the economics of CSET – but the profit one can gain from a commodity you can reuse again and again is invaluable…and traffickers know that. While we live with the hope of rescuing girls out of this bondage they find themselves in – the hard truth is that we will ALWAYS be rescuing girls out of exploitation unless we address the demand side of CSET. These traffickers are supplying a product that people want – and as long as people are willing to pay for the opportunity to exploit another individual more vulnerable than them – this cycle will continue.
And now I may look like a hypocrite by speaking to a combination of other causes: poverty, lack of education, and lack of options – since I just said they were not really CAUSES. But once we begin to follow the trails and dig a little deeper, we see that all of these situations tie themselves together to create a situation that perpetuates the cycle of sexual exploitation. When looking at the supply-side vulnerabilities, we see that although poverty did not cause trafficking, it made someone more vulnerable. Generational dynamics (psychological, spiritual, and cultural) all play a big part. All these scenarios tie in with the lack of education as well as the lack of options. Especially in S. Asia where I am passionate about, the caste system plays a big part not only in how women are valued in general, but especially in how women of the lower castes are viewed and treated. This ties in with an inadequate view of human life which we can see stem from religious views. At a later time we look in greater depth at the affect Hindu and Buddhist beliefs have on the perpetuating cycle.
Although policies are being put in place and strides are made to crack down on human trafficking – we are a long way from where we need to be. Much of this is because of a lack of accountability. We have corrupt state and government officials who are too easily bribed (and the traffickers know that) and when these transactions take place no negative personal ramifications happen. And when it comes to the church – we are not asking the hard questions and pushing hard when faced with opposition. Who wants to admit we live in such a world? Isn’t it just easier to believe we are helping by simply caring – shaking our heads in disbelief that such a thing exists?
When we tie it all together it really all boils down to sin - selfish and pleasure-seeking persons. Girls that are trafficked take a journey from person to object. They are reduced to genitals; an organ you can rent for 10 minutes.
And it is right on our doorstep - California has the worst problem in all US with trafficking (and not just sexual-all types), the US average is 14,500 – 17,500 persons that are trafficked annually. (Elpis Project Stats)
What are you going to do about it?


Psychological Impacts of Prostitution

The psychological impacts upon women and children coming out of prostitution are some of the most difficult aspects of rehabilitation to deal with. These women and children are impacted at every developmental level. Because of the situations they have found themselves in they are very fearful. The physical pain and suffering they have endured pales in comparison to the emotional trauma they have experienced.
An important thing to remember is that each child has their own unique psychological needs. Although I am running an “across the board” analysis in look at these psychological needs, they will vary from person to person.
Women and children coming out of prostitution will deal with a severe loss of control; they feel a certain loss of connection with the “world” and their ability to live in it. This loss of control is often coupled with anxiety, fear, terror, insomnia, flashbacks, nightmares, etc.
There can be activities and symbols that trigger the flashbacks. For example, there often tends to be an association of doors opening and closing with customers they have served. For prostitutes this association can take place with the opening ad closing of car doors. This then leads them into the bonds that keep them in prostitution. These can range from fear of threats put upon them and/or their family, lots of self blame, feeling trapped and betrayed, an extreme amount of financial debt, and any amount of addiction.
Because of the way they have been treated while in prostitution there is a great breakdown of trust within people in rehabilitation. They tend to have an understanding of faith in terms of justice. Their circumstances and inability to trust is then linked to low self-esteem and an inability to trust God.
Physical and psychological healing for these persons takes place in context of relationships. They say 60% of women and children will go back into prostitution at some point during the rehabilitation process [stat from CSET course taken at Fuller]. But what if going back into prostitution is somewhat a natural or essential part of their healing process? This is the life that they have always known, they have extreme fear still linked to it, and a lack of options for doing much else (and certainly for making as much money to provide for themselves, their family, or addiction issues).
Bottom line: it is hard, it takes a long time and it is different for every person. Don’t give up!


My Heart is Cut

[ABIDJAN, 2 August 2007] – Pro-government and rebel forces in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa, have subjected thousands of women and girls to rape and other brutal sexual assaults with impunity, Human Rights Watch said in a new report.

Despite recent progress in the peace process, the latest accord fails to address this widespread sexual violence or the need for accountability

While the worst sexual violence took place during the height of the armed conflict from 2002 to 2004, women and girls continue to be subjected to acts of sexual violence.

“Sexual violence has been the silent crime of Côte d’Ivoire’s military and political crisis,” said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director of Human Rights Watch. “Combatants responsible for rape and other acts of sexual violence have enjoyed almost complete impunity, while the survivors have been denied both justice and medical attention.”

Girls as young as six raped

Fighters on both sides have raped women old enough to be their grandmothers, girls as young as 6, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.

They have also inserted guns, sticks, pens, and other objects into their victims’ vaginas. Combatants have abducted women and girls to serve as sex slaves, and have forcibly conscripted them into the fighting forces.

Sexual violence has been often accompanied by other gross human rights violations against the victims, their families and their communities, including torture, killing, mutilation and even cannibalism.

Côte d’Ivoire – once considered a pillar of stability and progress in West Africa – has for at least seven years been consumed by a political and military crisis rooted in ethnic, religious, political and economic issues. Efforts to resolve the armed conflict between the government and northern-based rebels have produced a string of unfulfilled peace agreements, the deployment of more than 11,000 foreign peacekeeping troops, and the imposition of a UN arms embargo and travel and economic sanctions.

In March, the government and rebels signed the Ouagadougou Agreement, envisioned to bring about an end to the crisis and lead to elections later this year.

Health impact

Some rape victims died because of the sexual violence they endured. Others were raped so violently that they suffered serious bleeding, tearing in the genital area, long-term incontinence, and severe infections. Others suffered from botched abortions following the sexual assault. Many complained of bleeding, deep abdominal aches, and burning pains. Countless victims suffered from sexually transmitted infections and were put at high risk for the transmission of HIV and AIDS. Deterred by shame and poverty, few survivors of sexual violence ever receive the medical help they need.

The Ivorian government and the rebel New Forces (Forces Nouvelles) have made only scant efforts to investigate or prosecute perpetrators of even the most heinous crimes involving sexual violence.

This failure has contributed to an environment of increasingly entrenched lawlessness where impunity prevails. For its part, the international community has consistently sidelined initiatives to combat impunity in Côte d’Ivoire, presumably due to a fear of upsetting negotiation efforts.


In rebel-held territory, and particularly in the west, some women were targeted for abuse because of their ethnicity or perceived pro-government affiliation, often because their husband, father or another male relative worked for the state.

Many others appeared to have been targeted randomly for sexual assault. Women and girls were subjected to sexual violence in their homes, as they sought refuge after being found hiding in forests, when stopped at military checkpoints, while working on farms, and at places of worship.

Numerous women and girls were abducted and subjected to sexual slavery in rebel camps where they endured sexual abuse over extended periods of time. Resistance was frequently met with horrific punishment or even death. Some sex slaves, intimidated by their captors and the other circumstances, felt powerless to escape their life of sexual slavery. An unknown number of such women and girls remain with their captors.

Pro-government forces – including members of the gendarmerie, police, army, and militias – were widely responsible for rape and other forms of sexual abuse against women and girls, especially in the heavily contested western region and along frontlines.


BBC Exposes Bulgarian Baby Trade

Babies are being illegally offered for sale in Bulgaria with the promise of smuggling them abroad, an undercover BBC News team has discovered.

A self-confessed human trafficker in the resort city of Varna showed off toddlers with a selling price of 60,000 euros (£40,000) each.

The BBC sting was stopped before any children were actually sold.

Bulgaria's interior ministry says it has detained three people, including one who said he was a trafficker.

"Harry", as the smuggler called himself, was led to believe that the baby was destined for a shady British businessman whose criminal record barred him from legal adoption routes.

He never asked what wold happen to the child who, he said, could be smuggled to London via routes he had used in the past to traffic prostitutes.

For an extra fee, he said he would personally deliver a child to London.

A BBC TV Ten O'Clock News team which set up the sting spent more than a month in Varna, lulling Harry into revealing his criminal activities.

Bulgaria has been under strong international pressure to crack down on organized crime since joining the European Union earlier this year.

Brought by their parents

Harry said he had previously smuggled children to Germany and Norway and boasted of trafficking prostitutes from Bulgaria to Spain, the Netherlands and Ireland.

The BBC team covertly filmed some of the children he was offering.

The toddlers were brought to street cafes by relatives or other adults, and seemed oblivious to what was going on around them.

It appears that their families were complicit and there was no evidence of them being coerced.

Some spoke of being unable to afford to look after them.

Parents can also be prosecuted under a new Bulgarian law for selling their child.

Police surveillance

After being alerted by the BBC, the Bulgarian authorities passed the details of the BBC investigation to social services and police in Varna.

The criminal gang involved is now under surveillance.

Police say they need to gather their own evidence in order to mount a prosecution but are ready to take "any appropriate action".

The illegal traffic in Bulgarian babies is not a new phenomenon but previous cases involved pregnant women smuggled abroad to give birth and hand over their infants.

France convicted nine Bulgarians and dozens of French people in February over the sale of babies to French Roma (Gypsy) couples.

The couples are said to have paid up to $10,000 (£5,000) for each child.

'More severe punishments'

Chris Beddoe, of anti-child exploitation group ECPAT, said the UK needed to update legislation to tackle trafficking.

She said: "We have a range of laws in the UK that primarily come under immigration crimes, for example the facilitation of illegal entry and passport fraud, that sort of thing, but the penalties for those charges are actually very small in comparison to the severity of human trafficking.

"It also doesn't recognize that these criminals are traffickers, or part of the trafficking chain, so we need to fill those gaps in our own legislation around human trafficking.

"We need to make sure we have high-level recognition that child trafficking, no matter whether they are babies, infants, or indeed older children, is a crime and needs to be punished severely."

After being contacted by the BBC the Bulgarian authorities alerted social services and police in Varna, passing on details of the BBC investigation.


Baby survives being buried alive

I found this story today in the BBC News and it broke my heart. Although this is not directly related to CSET it is a foundational factor. You can see that the stress of having many daughters and not feeling as though you can afford them (particularly if you don't have any sons) will drive you to desperate things.
This grandfather did the unthinkable - but many times it is allowing the girls to grow up and then selling their bodies into the sex industry.


[5 July 2007]

A two-day-old baby girl in India has survived after being buried alive in a field by her maternal grandfather in the south of the country.

The baby, who had apparently never been fed, was discovered by a farmer near a village some 150km south of Hyderabad.

He said he only spotted her because her tiny hand was sticking out of the soil.

Police say they have arrested the baby's grandfather, 52-year-old Abdul Rahman, after he confessed to trying to kill the newborn by burying her alive.

"I am yet to marry off four daughters and cannot take responsibility for a fifth one, even when she is only a granddaughter," Mr Rahman was quoted as telling police.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr Rahman's daughter, the mother of the baby, had given her consent for her child to be taken away.

The baby, who has not yet been named and weighs just 1.7kg, is being treated in a nearby hospital.

The practice of female foeticide and female infanticide does occur in some rural areas.

A girl child is often viewed as inferior to a boy and a bride's dowry can also cripple a family financially.

Government figures suggest that around 10 million girls have been killed by their parents - either in the womb or immediately after birth - over the past two decades.



USA: Court says just viewing child porn is not a crime

What is our world coming to? Why do we make such excuses for appalling behavior? Too many people are getting off the hook for behavior they know is unacceptable. We make the laws too light and give loopholes that are too easy for people to jump through.


[2 July 2007] - A US court has said the existence of child pornography images in the cache of a man's computer did not mean that man had committed a crime under state law. The Court of Appeals in Georgia has reversed the man's conviction.

A forensic computer analyst for the US Secret Service had testified in court that Edward Ray Barton's laptop computer had been used to view 106 images of child pornography on the internet.

Barton was convicted on 106 counts of the sexual exploitation of children and jailed. Under appeal, though, three judges in the state of Georgia ruled that Barton did not break the law, which says that a person must have knowing possession of the images.

The images were stored on the hard drive of the computer, but only in the cache, a local store of files accessed on the internet designed to speed up browsing. Those images are not readily accessible without special software which he did not have, said the Secret Service expert.

Knowing possession

The court said this could not count as a knowing possession of the files and that there was no evidence that Barton had consciously saved the files for later use.

Judge Yvette Miller said other cases had debated whether or not files had to be consciously saved in order for a crime to be committed.

"None of those decisions, however, found that a defendant may be convicted of possessing child pornography stored in his computer's temporary internet file folders, also known as cache files, absent some evidence that the defendant was aware those files existed," said Judge Miller in the court's opinion. She said in order to convict, the state had to show that a defendant took some action to save or download images, or that the defendant knew that the computer automatically saved files.

"There was no way that Barton could have learned of the cache files in the normal course of using his computer," said Judge Miller. "Nor did the state present any circumstantial evidence that would have allowed the jury to infer Barton's knowledge of these files, i.e. they did not show that Barton was an experienced or sophisticated computer user who would have been aware of this automatic storage process."


To read the whole article go here.



A different take on the story of Hosea and Gomer. Have you ever stopped to wonder what Gomer's life was like before Hosea? Why she was so hesitant to commit to him? This is a story, "autobiography" I wrote through the eyes of Gomer.

**DISCLAIMER(S): Parts of these stories are taken from the real lives and stories of Nepali women. The names and details have been changed to protect these women.

I am in no way claiming this to be a correct Biblical interpretation but wrote this out of frustration with what I saw as one-sided views of Gomer**

The Honest Mutterings of a Wanderer ~ By Gomer Kumar
My Autobiography

I don’t know why I ever felt compelled to write my story. I am only a poor Dalit. I come from meager beginnings, but I can’t help but feel my story has significance. “Everything finds its meaning from its place in the story” (McLaren) and that is true for me. This is my story and from it I hope will come meaning and significance for others.

It wasn’t always this way. I was a happy little girl growing up in the BEST village east of the Annapurna’s. My family didn’t have much money or privilege but we were happy. My father was a good man who worked hard. He was a Sherpa that would take visiting tourists high into the Annapurna Mountains on treks. My family could not afford to send my younger sister Sarita or I to school so we would help my mother work each day in our rice patties. Sometimes she would send me down into Pokhara to sell our bags of rice to the tourists passing through.

That’s when it happened. I was 8 years old. I was in Pokhara one afternoon selling rice when some Maoists ran a raid. They usually stay away from the tourist towns so I was shocked and didn’t know what to do. Several men with big guns walked up and down the main strip forcing individuals into their truck. One man came up yelling at me. He told me if I wanted to live I would get inside the passing truck.

We were in the truck for what felt like several days. I could not tell where we were going. I had never been very far from the village before and could not read so none of the passing signs afforded me any information. I finally saw something that was a recognizable landmark - the boarder into India. That is when my biggest fears began to become actualities. I now knew I was headed toward Bombay…

I was taken off the truck with around 12 other little girls. We were there, at the tin roofs of the dreaded brothels in India. We were each sold to the garwhali (brothel keeper) for 500 Rs. – a debt I knew I could never pay off. There were large holes dug in the ground and we were told these were our beds.

I experienced daily beatings by the garwhali when I refused to please the different men. Finally, after a month, exhausted from the mental and physical torture I gave up and gave in. Little did I know the many different types of physical and mental torture and humiliation that awaited me. Each evening from about 5pm – 2am I was sent to around 10 – 30 different customers. These men did not honor or respect me. I was nothing but a piece of purchased property to them. I often felt ill but was never given any medicine. Within the first two years I had been forced to have two abortions; the garwhali gave me only two nights off before forcing me to continue working again despite them.

The police ran several raids of the brothels but never found me. You see, the brothels are a great way to make money – both for the garwhali and police force. The brothels get great political protection. So they are warned with a raid is coming. That’s when they hide those of us that are healthy and of use to them. It is only the sick and dying they leave out to be rescued during the raid. And so this went on for what felt like an eternity…

One night very late I managed to escape and just started running. I walked for five days and nights not knowing where I was going or how to find my home. I finally found my way back to my village.

My family took me back, I couldn’t believe it. It had been 43 months since I had seen them. It was with tears that we embraced and I told them of the dreaded tin roofs and my life these past years. I was afraid and knew I could not stay with my family; the Maoists would be looking for me. I went and stayed at the Peace Rehabilitation Center (PRC) for a few weeks. It was a center for girls coming out of sex trafficking. What a wonderful and peaceful place.

Yet I did not feel safe there. I tried to run away several times but was always caught. I cannot trust anyone anymore. In the worst moments back in India I would cry out to the darkness ‘Please, someone save me. Anyone, if there is anyone out there.” To me, humans seemed no more than animals. And yet I tried to go back. I guess I was just afraid that things would be worse for me if they found me having run away than if I went back willingly.

I found out I had contracted the dreaded “Bombay disease” from my time in the brothels. You see, the men in my country believe if you have AIDS and have sex with a virgin the AIDS will go out of you and into that virgin curing you of that disease. I was HIV positive and would most likely have the AIDS virus. There is no cure for this and the people in my country look down upon this. I shall never find companionship. My life shall end short.

It was shortly after this that I met him. Hosea was a man from the local church that came to visit one day. It was then presented to me that Hosea felt the Lord calling him to marry me, and if it was ok they would like to arrange a marriage between the two of us. This I could not believe. I was a girl of lowly circumstance – a Dalit from the hills of Pokhara and he was a Brahman of great and respectable standing. Did he know my past and where I had been? Did he know the burdens I carried? I knew no other way to support myself so I agreed and was then married to Hosea.

Someone later asked him if he knew about my past and the burden I carried. He said yes and that was ok with him because “the old is gone and the new is come.” I could begin life anew again. He was a good man, but marriage was difficult for me.

Having a baby within the first year or two of marriage is very important in my culture. Because of the numerous abortions I had been forced to have while in Bombay the doctors were doubtful I would ever be able to get pregnant again. PRC and Hosea began to pray to their Yahweh and within just a couple months Hosea and I became pregnant – we then gave birth to a son.
I tried to run away again several times. It is difficult for me to be in a relationship with Hosea. He wants me for himself, which I deeply want to, but at time it still makes me feel as though I am a possession. I feel as though I don’t have the freedom to make my own decisions and have my body as my own. But I don’t know what decisions I would even make given the chance. I have no skills, no knowledge – I must lean entirely on Hosea and that is frightening to me.

Hosea and I had two more children. They are beautiful, but I still live in fear that the Maoists will come back for me. Will they hurt my children? Will they one day take my daughter as they took me?

I could not deal with the fear anymore. I ran away again but this time I succeeded. I only knew the direction in which I ran but it was enough – I found myself back at the tin roofs. My situation was just as I had left it. I was treated horribly, but I thought I deserved no better. I know how to do nothing – I cannot support myself – I don’t deserve Hosea because of my past and the burdens I carry – and I never want my own daughter to have to suffer such pain.

Then came the day I will never forget because each moment is etched so finely into my memory. I felt so dirty. I didn’t want to be back there but I was afraid they would come to get me. I was afraid of what they would do to Hosea. They could take everything. They could destroy all we had built for ourselves. They could hurt our children. These men had already taken everything from me I didn’t want them to hurt Hosea.

I looked horrible. My ugly painted face seeking to be attractive. My worn eyes, dark from depression and fear, wet from the tears I had been powerless to stop. I was ashamed for him to see me here. I knew I shouldn’t be here. But I didn’t know where else to be. I had no other skills. I knew no other life. I feared any other life.

He came over and picked me up. I shuttered. Still the touch of any man is uncomfortable to me.

“We can’t leave. I can’t leave. They will beat me. They will beat you. They’ll find me!!!”

I pleaded with him not to do this.

That is when he spoke those unforgettable words – “I have purchased you”

I scarcely believed him.

Why me? I had run from him. He had already given up so much. He was Brahman – I was the untouchable. I had AIDS and was unclean. But he came back for me. He really loved me.

He really really loves me.


I thought I was protecting Hosea, but in reality I was only hurting him more. I was doing what I saw best in my own eyes, but it just ended up being all wrong.

I know I can never love Hosea the way that he deserves. I know I am not worthy of the love that he offers me despite where I have come from. But I know that I am better off with him than anywhere else. He has my best interest in mind and seeks my greater good. I am thankful for Hosea because he showed me a love I didn’t know existed.


Laws Not Enough...

The CRIN put out an article on Greece's current situation in the protection and rights of those sexually trafficked and exploited.


[13 June 2007] - Despite the enormous scale of trafficking of women and girls for forced prostitution in Greece, the government has failed to guarantee them protection and justice, said Amnesty International in a new report.

Many women and girls are denied protection in Greece because help is conditional upon them agreeing to testify against their traffickers, which they are often too terrified to do - meaning their traffickers escape justice. Thousands more are never identified as trafficked, are simply treated as 'illegals' and are even deported.

Trafficking for forced prostitution in Greece is believed to have increased tenfold from 1990 to 1997. According to non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in 2000 alone, up to 90,000 people are believed to have been trafficked into Greece from central and eastern Europe, a large number of whom were women trafficked for prostitution.

The new Amnesty International report, 'Greece: Uphold the rights of women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation', looks at the scale of trafficking into Greece for forced prostitution, and points to gaps in Greek law and practice on trafficking that undermine the efforts to help trafficked women and girls.


To read the rest of the article which includes a case study of a woman seeking justice and protection, go HERE.

This is all too often the case. Many girls seeking to get out of prostitution are fearful of the ramifications of such decisions. Governmental laws are not sufficient enough to protect these women from those who seek to bring them back into CSET. Greece has implemented some new laws - which are not helping - and this is the case in many areas of the world.

The House of Representatives meet every couple of years to discuss the current situation and actions being taken. I was quite frustrated when reading through the notes taken at these meetings - although good things were said and suggested, we still have difficulty implementing any of the laws or suggestions that are made. In reading the report from 2002 and then the report from 2005 - very little changed and the ramifications that were set forth for those who did not implement such laws were not carried out.
The 2002 report said:
"The Trafficking Victims Protection Act contemplates that the United States will withdraw non-humanitarian aid from governments which remain on the ''Tier Three'' list after the next year's report. The ''Tier Three'' governments are those that not only fail to meet minimum international standards for combating human trafficking, but who are not even making serious efforts to bring themselves into compliance with these standards."
I have not heard of anything such thing being done...
To understand the tiers and see what little has been done to the effect of implementing change based on this standard check out the 2005 report pg.'s 37-39.

You can check out the minutes from both committee meetings here: 2002 and 2005


A Note From Within

So, as we continue learning and looking into the great crisis of CSET – we now come to the psychological impacts of prostitution. Before we go too deeply into this, I would like to start with an introductory letter to begin us thinking…

“Dear Mr. Trick” is a letter that was written by juvenile survivors of prostitution to the men who bought and sexually abused them. This comes from the book “Casting Stones” by Rita Nakashima Brock and Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite.

This letter is difficult to read and uses strong language – so decide now if you would like to read further or not…


Dear Mr. Trick,

You think I like your sex, dumb bastard, the thought of your sex alone makes me cringe. You could never pay me enough to like you. I took your money, but not you. I used your money to buy things for me that would help me forget about you. I hated you and you never knew. I lied to you and told you I cared. And you believed. HA! You should be ashamed of yourself…
A fifty dollar bill…When I stepped into your car you violated by body, asking me to call you “Daddy”…You not only fucked with my body, you fucked with my mind. Afterwards, I held the fifty-dollar bill to my stomach as I threw up, sickened by what had just happened. And that feeling is still the same, even after four years have passed me by. I’ve been violated by every type of man – rich, poor, ugly, good looking, every race…I have no respect for you. I don’t care if you are the head of a major corporation or you have a wife and a dog.


These are very real and difficult feelings to grasp and deal with. As girls come out of prostitution there are all sorts of emotions and traumas that come along with them.
Again, as discussed before the misconception can be that they choose to do this, for the money, but again we have to ask, “what constitutes choice when surrounding structures of power and work provide no good choice? The lesser of evils is not the same as fulfilling, life-enhancing work” (Brock and Thistlethwaite, p. 184). Keep checking back because we will discuss more the psychological trauma of girls coming out of CSET.


Pop vs. Soda vs. Coke

It is finals week here - I don't have much time to write anything of significance. So I leave with you this little bit of fascinating information. I am a minority in my state...and county (yes, you can even check your county!) Someone spent a lot of time on this and I think they deserve some recognition.
So....what do you call it? And while we are at it - if you are one of those "other" people...what the heck IS other...bubbly? beverage with gas? ...I don't get it.

Check It Out Here!


Blaming Children

Today I would like to address one of the great misconceptions: blaming children for their own exploitation.

I have been asked several times during my study of CSET (commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking) how many of the women and children actually want to be in the pornographic or prostitution industry. How many of them actually choose this for themselves? This is a great misconception when looking at and trying to understand CSET. I am not naive enough to believe this never happens, that no women ever choose this for themselves, but this is most often not the case – especially with children.

I read a great article by Amalee McCoy titled “Blaming Children for Their Own Exploitation: The Situation in East Asia” from the ECPAT 7th Report on the Implementation of the Agenda for Action Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children which covered this topic well.

She talks about how “a failure on the part of societies at large to understand that all children who engage in commercial sexual transactions are victims of exploitation, whatever their circumstances, has led to the widespread view that some children ‘choose’ to endure exploitation and its physical and psychosocial repercussions, and thus surrender their rights as children to protection.” This is simply not the case. As we will see McCoy explain further and as I will hopefully cover in future discussion on this blog.

“A survey conducted by the Asian Women and Children’s Network in Yokohama in 2001 determined that many girls involved in enjo kosai [compensated dating] had not received adequate sex education that taught self-respect, and were negatively affected by a conformist education lacking in human rights consciousness. The pull factors behind children’s involvement in enjo kosai vary somewhat: curiosity, a search for affection in the absence of attention at home, loneliness, an effort to join what may be a fashionable school trend, and a way of earning gifts and extra spending money to supplement living expenses, buy consumer goods, cover nights out with friends or pay for hobbies and trips.” While some of these pull factors seem like decisions made by the children – many of them dig deep psychologically and are often times not even recognized by the child. Without the proper understanding about what they are doing and what it is truly costing them – in regard to the emotional, physical and psychological damage – they are not making an informed “decision”.

“Media reports often lump enjo kosai cases together with issues of promiscuity and loose morals, depicting the children involved as spoiled, greedy and motivated by a desire for the latest mobile phone or BMW Series 5 sedan. Such reports rarely shed light on the perpetrators, the likely psychological damage to the child, the vulnerability to sexually transmitted infections, or the grave and sometimes fatal physical danger that accompanies liaisons with strangers.” In many countries, unfortunately, it is still illegal to be a prostitute and that is a fairly easy case to try, but it is not as illegal or easy to try someone for purchasing sex or being the owner of a brothel who sells women and children to others as an organ for rent. And that is just prostitution – if we begin a discussion on pornography and the difficulties in even bringing a lawsuit up against that industry we could talk for a while (and we will – in a future post).

“The issue of consent is at the crux of the perception that children involved in enjo kosai have ‘asked for it’ and are therefore accountable, while children who are impoverished or more obviously coerced into prostitution are deserving of protection and sympathy. The perception that children ‘voluntarily’ sell their bodies to supplement consumerist desires encourages the misguided belief that such children consent to engage in an illegal activity and thus to their own exploitation, and that they therefore deserve legal punishment or sanction. This view fails to recognize that people under 18 are considered, under the terms of the CRC, to have need for special protection while they developmentally acquire the experience and knowledge required to appreciate fully the physical and psychological ramifications of adult roles and responsibilities. Thus, children cannot consent to their own sexual exploitation.”

Now we can begin another discussion about women over 18 – but I think I know where I still stand on that conversation. The point on this post is to break down the misconception that children are somehow to blame or making the conscious decision to be in prostitution because they want to be there. This is not the case. And each one of you has a responsibility to do something about it.

God, be with those children who are placed in the difficult position of CSET everyday with a lack of opportunity or options available to them. And even those who may have other opportunities available to them but stay here because of a lack of education, or the threat of others or the coercion they don’t understand – give us the eyes to see how we can be your agents of advocacy and change.