I’ve learned some disturbing things about the sex trade from Street’s Hope and, as a result, I am now working on an obligation I never knew I had. The process started simply enough. An announcement was made at my church about an event sponsored by Street’s Hope: a presentation of a film – Tricked. I have since gotten to know Street’s Hope’s leadership, met with its board, participated in its fundraisers, given funds and co-led a significant work project.
- The path to the sex trade often starts with sexual abuse of a girl by a family member.
- Pimps watch for and prey upon young people who run away, who are disconnected and without good options.
- Pimps and “the Trade” subject girls and women to a range of physical abuse that do deep damage to the body, mind and spirit. Self-worth and hope are decimated. Drugs are used to assure dependency or as a means of escape. Fear and the struggle to survive are constant companions.
- Street’s Hope restores women. In a safe-house community, relationships are established and nurtured, counselling and personal development plans and hope are kindled, needs are identified, healthcare and education are arranged and delivered. Lives, families and futures are restored.
At Street’s Hope events I have seen women, leaders of Street’s Hope, counselors, members of the community at large standing in solidarity with the courageous women who live at the safe-house and are rebuilding and restoring their lives. It is powerful. It is a moment where we get to see humanity at its best.
For men, the story of solidarity is an entirely different one, for it is men who have most often been the abusers, the exploiters, and manipulators. It is my brothers who should have provided safety and protection but who betrayed that role in favor of power, gain and perverse pleasure. Rather than humanity’s brightest moments, these display some of its darkest.
Herein is my obligation: since my brothers have done the damage, I need to have a hand in the reparations. In whatever ways I can, I want to stand in solidarity with the women in the safe house and those who care for and stand with them. So I give time, I give money, and I give encouragement toward Street’s Hope’s mission of restoration. I am amazed and grateful for what I see and hear about the struggles and the successes that occurs in the face of extraordinary odds. The needs are huge. Street’s Hope does important work, but each and every one of us has a responsibility to stand up and do our part.