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?