Eradicating Sexual Slavery: Biblical Justice + Varified Aid Models
Updated: Dec 17, 2019
Eradicating Sexual Slavery
Through Biblical Development Principals and Verified Aid Models
“NO,” the frail caramel skinned six-year-old screamed as a rough muscular hand tightly grasped her wrist and drug her into a hazy room. Through the smoke she was able to make out a crusty mattress shoved in an abandoned corner and draped with an equally disgusting cloth, distantly reminiscent of the crisp freshly cleaned linins her mother had once used to adorn her tiny children’s sized bed. What happened next is that of the purest evil one could imagine. Not yet tall enough to peer at warm cookies on a countertop, this little angel had just been violated in ways unfathomable to her grade school counterpart, who whined about leaving the store without the latest Merida figurine in the United States.
This story is a compilation of so many I have heard on the ground with House of Hope and International Justice Mission over the past three years. The wonderful news is that the story does not end at the last sentence because God is activating his people right now as I type these words, who are working to bring heaven to earth. Psalm 94:15 promises us that “justice will prevail, and all the morally upright will be vindicated.” We need only dive into His word and to discover the code to our involvement in His plans. Bryant Myers reiterates this truth in his chapter on Theology, Poverty and Development, “One’s vision of a better human future and how one works toward that future are grounded in one’s theology and understanding of the biblical narrative.”
The purpose of this paper is to show that the key to eradicating the sexual exploitation of minor girls (aged 17 or less) in developing nations is equal to the end of poverty, violence, and corruption in the aforementioned nations. Strikingly, the Holy Bible holds the answers to various implementation questions and can be used as a roadmap of strategic planning for non-governmental organizations and governments of nations whose laws condemn this heinous crime. In this paper, I intend to dive deep into the causes leading to minor girls being caught in sexual exploitation, uncover the heart of scripture to show that the answers to a just society lie within its pages, and finally discuss possible models to be used by aid groups (organizations and churches) in this effort.
Causes Leading to Sexual Exploitation of Minor Girls
While some would read the introductory story, snarl and ask “where are her parents,” they may not realize that it was the girl’s parents that sold her into sexual slavery in the first place. As wealthy Americans, making 99% more than the rest of the world, we have difficulty understanding the circumstances that eventually lead to a minor girl being exploited for sex. Further, we are not able to easily comprehend the dire situation of parents that would choose to subject their very flesh and blood to such a cruel lifestyle.
For these reasons we must engage research and uncover the very real situation of the poor in an effort to lead to the end of this sort of egregious oppression. Christine Caine is the founder of The A21 Campaign, a non-profit that exists to abolish injustice in the 21st century, and believes that together, we can end human trafficking. In her book Undaunted, she brings readers into the rescue work of A21 and tells stories of girls forced from their homes due to poverty. “Nadia…told how she had been raised in a village at a time of war and deprivation. Her family possessed an abundance of love but not food,” Cain writes. Situations like these are all too real. Married mothers are forced to give up their children in the very real circumstance that they cannot feed them and want a better life for their children. Sometimes these mothers and fathers are aware of the evil that they release their children to and yet other times they are blindsided by pure dishonesty.
Infant girls in the Philippines are being sexually exploited digitally through cyber sex trafficking. “Alarmingly, like a virus, it quickly spreads like an epidemic from the infected home into the vulnerable neighborhood. We cannot afford to leave our eyes closed to the present reality,” said Philippine Chief Police Inspector Shirley May Montalban. In this particular case, an infant, not yet one year old, was rescued from a poverty stricken home where parents have resorted to putting their children in front of webcams and having them do sexual acts instructed by pay-per-view pedophiles around the globe.
But why are so many in poverty around the world? Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice Mission (IJM), has coined the phrase “The Locust Effect,” to describe the sort of oppressive violence leading to poverty that drives young girls into the hands of evil. He says, “The relentless threat of violence is part of the core subject of their lives, but we are unlikely to see it and they are unlikely to tell us about it. We would be wise however, not to be fooled – because like grief, the thing we cannot see may be the deepest part of their day.” Mr. Haugen was right when he put the word violence in front of poverty. According to IJM’s 2014-2015 Justice Review, when perpetrators are held accountable in a court of law, these criminals just stop being so brave. In fact, the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Person’s report 2012 stated, “Independent evaluation has demonstrated that after four years of partnership with local law enforcement in Cebu, Philippines, the availability of minor girls for sex decreased by a stunning 79%.
In countries where the highest rates of child sexual exploitation occur, violence is rampant. This is not the sort of violence that we are used to in the developing world, rather this is common everyday violence. In unjust societies, criminals and those with power are allowed to rule over the poor, essentially maintaining their cycle of poverty. Everyday violence looks like men stealing crops of agricultural families causing them to lose their income, thugs threatening to spread income crippling lies about a family’s reputation in exchange for the innocence of their daughter, and greedy government officials allocating inappropriate funds to their offices rather than programs to assist their countrymen.
Bryant Myers reports this issue as well and calls the normalized everyday violence unseen by the poor as marred identity. Myers cites Jayakumar Christian’s ideal that poverty is a disempowering system because it involves marred identity. As I previously stated in the critical assessment paper, marred identity can be easily described as personal system of belief that has been skewed by God complexes that are seen as (or actually do) exerting power over the poor.
Of course at the root of this bad behavior is corruption. Corruption in people and corruption in the justice systems that is supposed to protect the most vulnerable. Unruly justice systems in developing nations hold in their hands the end of poverty and the end of violence. Christian again helps to define issues causing poverty with a model called, A relational understanding of poverty. In this model he further describes the ideal of marred identity and goes a step further to list out all of the various segments that aid in creating that false view of one’s self. He states that identity of one’s self is directly relational to influence by God, Community, Environment and other factors like violence. Further, he draws a circle around these four factors and calls this the “social system,” which includes political realities, both local and global. In a nutshell, Christian has shown through his research that a corrupt justice system and political effectiveness do not stand alone as injustices on their own rather they seek to ruin the the true identity of one’s self.
Robert Chambers also lists corruption via powerlessness in his development model as one of the six elements procuring poverty in developing nations. However it is John Friedman that makes a distinct connection between corruption and powerlessness. In the same way Christian encompassed all elements into a social system, Friedman directly links the two ideas in his model. In the book Terrify No More Haugen further defines the issue of corruption faced by the world’s poor. “IJM was established with a clear mission: to help people suffering injustice and oppression who cannot rely on local authorities for relief,” Haugen states. So far IJM has saved over 28,000 people from oppression and convicted over 1,100 perpetrators through its justice systems transformation programs.
IJM’s success in the Cebu study reiterates the devastation that a dysfunctional government system can have on the poor, yet provides hope for the future and a path forward for non-profits and justice systems seeking to make a change. Minors girls in developing nations who are currently at risk of (or are currently being sexually exploited) are being held in this pattern of poverty, violence and corruption by the systems around them. However, models like those defined by Haugen have been able to bridge the gap between definitions of poverty given by Christian, Chambers and Friedman and true transformation leading to the eradication of the sexual exploitation of minor girls in developing nations.
Biblical Development Principals of a Just Society
We are called to be just in Micah 6:8 which says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” As Christians discover the horror that exists today with over 45.8 million men, women and children estimated to be held in slavery today, we need to first turn to God to cleanse our hearts and make us worthy and pure both individually and as organizations or churches wishing to engage in the fight to end this injustice. Once our eyes, hearts and routines are focused on Him, we can then turn to the Bible’s instruction on creating just societies and its call on our life to become a part of bringing heaven to earth. Finally, scripture should be reengaged to provide the instruction for perseverance in this heavenly battle.
According to the C.S. Lewis Institute, “A Rule of Life is an intentional pattern of spiritual discipline that provides structure and direction for growth of holiness.” Slavery is a very real problem around the world and holds more people captive today than during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The number issued by the Global Slavery Index includes not only minor girls being sold for sex but also boys and women caught in the sex trade as well as those in bonded labor. Throughout MD525 Poverty and Development, we have been introduced to several of the world’s leading development organizations, many of which are actively seeking to save these precious young souls from the depths of evil. Upon first glace, these groups seem to have everything together, buttoned up like a ship at sea. The problem though exists under the cover of the well designed media package, studio posed executive business headshots, and fancy well funded programs for development. One must remember that organizations are made up of people and people are fatally flawed apart from Christ.
As the Bryant Myers’ quote so eloquently points out in the introduction of this paper, one’s vision is only as good as one’s theology or scriptural grounding. The Bible tells us that we are lost without the Lord’s guidance and further claims that mountains will only move at the hand of the Lord. However, left to their own devices, God’s people return to their nature of sin and self-service. Groups like World Vision, have sought to interact with this potential downfall actively through their very structure. In their Mission & Values statement, World Vision states, “From Him we develop our understanding of the Kingdom of God …The staff we engage are equipped by belief and practice to bear witness.” While non-profits that adhere to these principals are not without fault, they embark on the development journey with the tools they need to call upon a higher power for problem solving, conflict resolution and plan implementation. Staff who actively pursue the development of healthy personal spiritual practices, their Rule of Life, are better equipped to handle challenges and success in a healthy Christ-like way. Further, Myers seconds this sentiment by stating, “Christian development practitioners must take time to develop their theological skills just as they develop their technical skills.”
Once humanitarians are fully focused on Christ, they can begin to dive deeper into how the scriptures call upon Christians to engage with the hurting. Psalms clarifies God’s call for his people in Psalm: 82:2-4, “Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough; you’ve let the wicked get away with murder. You’re here to defend the defenseless, to make sure that underdogs get a fair break; Your job is to stand up for the powerless, and prosecute all those who exploit them.” In this passage the goals of the Lord’s people are clear. Sitting on the sidelines of evil is simply not an option. Following one’s salvation and the blessing of true forgiveness by the Son of God, believers are to get dirty and become a part of what He is doing on earth. In doing so, He calls his people to trust in Him.
Unlike other communities, Christians are uniquely called to service. However, Psychology Today recently reported a lack of social responsibility. In their article, Dr. Melissa Burkley claimed, pluralistic ignorance and diffusion of responsibility as the two main reasons why people do not help others in need. As churches and Christian non-profits seek to live out Psalm 82:3-4 they need only turn to the Bible for answers to creating a just society first for themselves and then seek to replicate this model for the communities in which they serve. As stated in the previous section, violence, corruption and poverty are perpetuating violence against minor girls in developing countries.
These commands are defined by Jesus himself in the sermon on the mount, which appears in Matthew 5-7. Jesus first addresses how individuals are called to conduct themselves in a section commonly referred to as the beatitudes. He then reminds believers of their place in society and dives into individual grievances like; murder, adultery, lies, loving enemies, and pride. Trusting the Lord is the main component in successfully living out the Christian call to rescue and defend young girls trapped in slavery today. He asks His people to believe in Him and abide by the orders in the sermon on the mount, in exchange for life-long salvation and forgiveness. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 says, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” Additionally, He promises to supply needs of His people who choose to answer His call. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Whether in need of resources, staff, safety or insight into program development, those who trust in Him “will be like a tree planted in water that sends out its roots by the stream.” (Jeremiah 17: 7)
Jesus’ promises provide great reassurance to those who enter into battle with evil, either through literal rescue or providing funding for those groups who are on the ground. However, in looking back to the first book of the Bible one will notice, sexual abuse of young women beginning in the sixth chapter. The Bible says that men noticed girls were attractive and took any they chose. The right to determine one’s own sexual partner has been violated since literally the beginning of time, so entering into this fight will take extreme perseverance on the part of Christian activists.
Paul Hiebert invites Christians into the primary step of this long battle in his text, Understanding Folk Religion. Hiebert writes, “The first step in this process of critical contextualization is to examine phenomenologically the people’s beliefs and practices to understand these as the people do.” Bringing heaven to earth can only be done with a clear mind and one that seeks to understand the hearts and mind of people one desires to serve. In some cases, the girls that rescuers find will fear leaving their oppressors which can be confusing. When one seeks to understand the situation of the girl from her perspective, they may uncover threats made by perpetrators to harm her family if ever she were to flee.
Bethany Hanke Hoang, a Princeton Seminary graduate and anti-slavery expert, discusses perseverance in her latest book, The Justice Calling. She first acknowledges fleeting hope by stating, “The ideas of hope can begin to appear as nothing more than just that – an idea, fleeting and nebulous, like a vapor that appears for a moment and then evaporates.” Then in her closing remarks Hoang brings readers back to a place of spiritual grounding. As discussed in the first part of this section, the spiritual formation of God’s people is the beginning step in being able to save little girls from the sex trade.
“Justice is most faithfully understood as a fruit of our formation in Jesus Christ. If we do not abide in Christ, if our work is not the abundant fruit of being deeply formed in Christ through the Spirit, our work is dross. We will wither. It is nearly impossible to sustain an impulsive and emotionally driven response over the long haul (without Jesus),” Hoang writes.
Potential Models for Faith Based Groups
In today’s Christian culture there is an uprising of sorts for justice. In my personal opinion, this word has become popular for three reasons: revival in the American Christian church, international connectivity, and the media. With the explosion of inexpensive tools for churches to use as creative services resources, clergy are able to educate their congregations like never before. These forms of media include new and relevant video, updated worship, and accessible technology that bring the once lost young person into the fold, while energizing them for action. God is on the move in his people and faith based groups need to evaluate their opportunities for engagement quickly and effectively. While many development models have been shaped, few will make a lasting impact in their designated communities of choice. To determine the best use of resources, effective non-profit models, church engagement and tertiary support prototypes will be addressed.
For effective non-profit models, attention needs to return to the International Justice Mission and their four tiered approach to development. While other groups maintain a few of these pillars, none encompass an all inclusive program, like IJM’s, that has proven to sustain restoration within freed peoples and their governments over a ten-year time frame. The four tiers they employ are rescuing victims, restoring survivors, restraining perpetrators, and reforming justice systems. One without the other is like completing a puzzle yet forgetting to attach the boarder. A21, while a respected and effective rescue group, only rescues victims and advocates for their clients in courts.
With all four tiers in place, IJM has seen a drastic reduction of minor girls for sale in the country of Cambodia. The Cambodia Daily reported “Exploitation of children in Cambodia’s commercial sex industry has reduced significantly compared to the early 2000s due to improved law enforcement.” This improved law enforcement is a direct result of IJM’s police training programs and their work eliminating corruption from Cambodia’s justice system. However, as Myers states, “ the belief in the West that the spiritual and material domains of like are separate and unrelated” has to remain at the forefront of the minds of any non-profit leadership as they seek to develop their own tiered program. Worldviews of target communities must be considered and worldviews of the developing organization must be willing to compromise to truly find restoration and lasting development.
Christian churches who wish to engage in global missions might also find it compelling to become involved in the rescue work of some of the non-profits currently seeking to find minor girls in the sex trade and bring them to true freedom. Although several outlets for churches exist there are a few qualities a church might want to consider before becoming involved with a particular organization.
The Noonday Collection is an organization that “partners with talented artisan entrepreneurs to make a difference in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.” Small groups have the opportunity to host trunk shows that eventually donates funds to help bring survivors out of the sex industry and provide jobs in vulnerable communities where the prevalence of child sexual exploitation is high. While this seems like an opportunity several steps removed from actual rescue, it is a great way for churches to begin in God’s work of justice.
Although, a church of significant means might choose to dive into deep partnership with an organization that allows the adoption of a field office. While it might seem compelling for individuals to personally meet survivors and join a live rescue operation, church staff must be prepared to temper the expectations of their congregations relative to the needs of those needing brought to freedom. In other words, organizations on the ground conducting raid operations employ local law enforcement that know the layout of the land, local language and stakeholders, in addition to hiring seriously trained personnel to lead operations. The entry of a “green tourist” would not only distract those that have important roles in the situation but also foil the operation. In the book, Terrify No More, a lead rescue operative is described as, “a force of nature…and a highly trained criminal investigator with tremendous experience who works very, very hard.”
Sending missionaries into aftercare situations is also an avenue for churches. At House of Hope Nicaragua, teams are accepted year round to help restore dilapidated shelters for survivors, build new accommodations, pray with those currently enslaved, and conduct medical clinics. While this sort of hands-on experience can be very enticing for churches, one major principal should remain in the forefront of the mission. Above all, truth must remain. In MD525, a case study is discussed that describes a missionary physician who sought to rid local people of stomach sickness by developing a sanitary means of containing feces in latrines. When the missionary discovered the worldview of the locals prevented them them from changing their habits he used trickery to convince them to use the system. The issue with this as learned in the class is that the missionary’s witness for Jesus is threatened by the deception and hence all future attempts by missionaries to this group of people are at risk as well. While quick fixes might initially help the locals, it is important to keep the ultimate goal in mind. In the case of eradicating sexual exploitation of minor girls, one might be inclined to over promise safe accommodations and opportunities in an effort to bring the girls to safety but must remember to always present the truth in an effort to protect their Christian witness.
Finally, tertiary groups also find themselves in need of philanthropy work and social service projects. Becoming a key part of the fight to end child sexual exploitation has the ability to serve two wonderful purposes for these types of groups: increased revenue by building a positive public perception, and providing support to relief organizations. According to a 2010 study by Cone Communications 85 percent of consumers have a better outlook on businesses that give to a charity they care about. In addition, organizations who volunteer or give to non-profits are eligible for tax deductions for their gift and volunteer expenses.
In addition to these mutually beneficial arrangements, organizations wishing to help save minor girls from sexual slavery might begin to evaluate their own supply chains. As discussed in the first section, poverty is one of the leading causes of child sexual exploitation. Communities who are plagued with lawlessness and poverty are also subject to other types of slavery according to the Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Report conducted by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply. Supporting those charitable organizations that employ robust conclusive models for eradicating bonded labor slavery, like those persons held in factories, rice mills, and production facilities will also reduce the prevalence of child sexual slavery. One example of this can be found in India. When IJM began work in India, the sale of minor girls for sex was prevalent and corrupt justice systems refused to acknowledge the presence of slaves in outsourced facilities. However, by engaging the criminal justice system and the courts, through grants from large organizations like Wal-Mart, who is currently seeking to rid slavery from their textile and food supply chain, significant strides have been made. Currently, IJM has trained over 10,000 Indian law enforcement officials to recognize and prosecute acts of slavery.
To say eradicating slavery is a simple task is a drastic understatement that, as previously stated, is a daunting ideal when one refers to the violation of innocence found in the first book of the Bible. However, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ left his people with a handbook of principals for just societies and lives lived in honor of His name. By seeking these things, an end of minor girls sold for sex might just come to an end in the 21st century as proclaimed by the A21 Campaign. If this goal is to be reached, one first needs to discover the three causes leading to sexual exploitation of minor girls, which are: poverty, violence and corruption. Next, it behooves justice seekers to learn the Biblical development principals of a just society, including: developing one’s rule of life, trusting the Lord (for safety, means, tools and disciples), and persevering in the fight for justice. Implementing these principals can be the key in ending this egregious violation of innocence. In doing so, non-profits, churches and tertiary organizations should research verified aid models that have shown true sustained development change, like those employing holistic programs that not only provide rescue but seek to mend the root cause of such violence.
At the outset, a little six-year-old girl was stripped of her right to innocence by a violent abuser. Omitted from the text was the revelation of a second girl, only eleven years young, in the same room. As the six-year-old was swung into the room by the rough muscular hand, the eleven-year-old sat in the opposite corner, shivering of shock and fear. She had been violently violated as well, and peered down through a pool of tears to find her left arm swollen, bleeding and broken. Like the six-year-old, she too screamed “NO” but when she fought back as the 200-pound man forced himself on her, he flung her against a faintly painted cement wall breaking her arm but more importantly her spirit. At their ages these two girls were sold for prime dollar in the central American sex trade where they would remain for several years until a tiny rescue organization funded by a church and supported by a tertiary organization partnered with local law enforcement, they had trained, to conduct a military grade raid on the facility. Following their rescue, they were taken to a local safe house for survivors and cared for through education, spiritual guidance, and material needs. Drastically, their story does not end there. A few short months later the safe house was closed by a corrupt government official who wished the country to remain off the United States Trafficking in Persons Report and the girls were sent back to their parents, who initially sold them into the sex industry as a means of supporting their families. Today girls lay in this bondage around the globe but through biblical development principals and verified aid models, sexual exploitation of minor girls CAN be eradicated.
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Caine, Christine. Undaunted. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.
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 Bryant L. Myers, Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development, (Maryknoll, N.Y., Orbis Books, 2011) 47.
 Pew Research Center, What It Means to Be Poor by Global Standards (Washington, Pew Research Center, 2015).
 Christine Caine, Undaunted (Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 2012) 14.
 International Justice Mission, “The Youngest Survivor We’ve Ever Met Is Now Safe from Cybersex Trafficking" (Washington, International Justice Mission, 2016)., hoping someem do sexual acts instructed by pay per view pedifiles around the globe. have had to resort to putting their childr.
 Gary A. Haugen, and Victor Boutros, The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence (New York, Oxford University Press, 2014) 44.
 Justice Review: A Journal on Protection and Justice for the Poor, (Washington, International Justice Mission, 2015) 11.
 United States Department of State, Trafficking In Persons Report (Washington, United States Department of State, 2013).
 Jayakumar Christian, God of the Empty-Handed: Poverty, Power, and the Kingdom of God. (Monrovia, CA: MARC, 1999) (via Myers 123-125)
 Robert Chambers, Rural Development: Putting the First Last (London: Intermediate Technology Publications, 1983) 110.
 John Friedmann, Empowerment: The Politics of Alternative Development (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1992) 27.
 Gary Haugen, Terrify No More, (Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 2005) 35.
 International Justice Mission, Home (Washington, Accessed May 27, 2016) http://www.ijm.org.
 Walk Free Foundation, Global Slavery Index Report. Report (Western, Australia, Walk Free Foundation, 2016).
 "Instructions for Developing: A Personal Rule of Life," C.S. Lewis Institute (McLean, C.S. Lewis Institute, 2016) 1.
 Myers, 47.
 "Mission and Values." World Vision. Accessed May 31, 2016. http://www.worldvision.org/about-us/.
 "Why Don't We Help? Less Is More, at Least When It Comes to Bystanders," Psychology Today (New York, Sussex Publishers, 2009).
 Paul G. Hiebert, R. Daniel Shaw, and Tite Tienou, Understanding Folk Religion: A Christian Response to Popular Beliefs and Practices (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1999) 369.
 Bethany H. Hoang, and Kristen D. Johnson, The Justice Calling: Where Passion Meets Perseverance (Grand Rapids, Brazos Press, 2016) 166.
 Ibid, 192-193.
 The Justice Review, Report. 2014-2015 (Washington, International Justice Mission, 2016) 52-55.
 "The Problem,” International Justice Mission (Washington, International Justice Mission, 2016) Accessed June 01, 2016. https://www.ijm.org/.
 "Home," The A21 Campaign (Australia, The A21 Campaign, 2016) Accessed June 01, 2016. http://www.thea21campaign.net.
 The Justice Review,) 11.
 International Justice Mission, The Problem.
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 Our Purpose, Noonday Collection (Austin, Noonday Collection, 2016), Accessed June 01, 2016.
 Haugen, Terrify, 6.
 About Us, House of Hope Nicaragua (Managua, House of Hope Nicaragua, 2016) Accessed June 01, 2016.
 "Week Six Forum: Latrine Case Study." Review. Moodle - MD525 Forums (Pasadena: Fuller Theological Seminary, 2016) Moodle.Fuller.edu.
 Cone Cause Evolution Study (Boston, Cone Communications, 2010) 5.
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