For me, winter has always been a tangible picture of vulnerability. As the air grows thin and clouds hang low, the trees are laid bare, and every nest is exposed. While we dress January up with talk of a “fresh start,” the truth is that the earth around us is withering in the absence of sun...perhaps this is why January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Due to the the very nature of the sex trade, our women are vulnerable and exposed, privy to violence, mental health issues, poverty, and addiction. Winter can be harsh, and all the talk of a new year with new possibilities simply doesn’t translate to a mother of four who is dancing every night, struggling to make ends meet. For her, the ho-hum, uninspiring existence she’s been plowing for years seems impossible to exchange for cliche verbiage.
And here’s where we wrestle with understanding their plight: don’t they choose this life? 89% say they want out (www.prostitutionresearch.com)...but why would they choose sex exploitation in the first place? Aren’t their issues the result of poor judgement?
Yes… and no. When I look at our women and listen to their stories, I am forced to dig deeper and listen more closely. Our team is constantly reading between the lines, looking at the undercurrent of their plight. While broad sweeping stereotypes are dangerous, we can see statistically recurring themes:
Most of our women have faced sexual abuse.
Most of our workers across Texas are on government assistance
Most fall below the poverty line.
Many are mothers.
Again, why is she here? What keeps her in the clubs? Was she manipulated, force or coerced?
This is where worlds collide: 70% of sex trafficked victims in the U.S. come through the commercial sex industry...this includes strip clubs. While our women are intelligent and sharp,manyare unaware of the very definition of human trafficking. Some have been trafficked themselves without ever realizing it.
I immediately think of 17-year-old Terry. She began began dating a man in Waco who lured her in with smooth words and empty promises. Terry had been abused by her mother for years, and this prince offered an “escape”. After having sex with him for months, he began telling her how much more attractive she would be if she agreed to have sex with his friends. She obliged, and his friends began paying her “boyfriend” (pimp). More girls were brought into the “apartment” (brothel), pistol-whipped and drugged. She became pregnant with God-knows-who’s baby... but her boyfriend claimed paternity and was therefore given rights as the father. She ended up in a Waco strip club after he went to prison for a drug felony.
Though we rarely hear stories like this, they happen every single day in your city. Awareness is the first step towards action. This is why we are sponsoring a special screening of the 8 Days Film at the Hippodrome, a feature film based on actual events surrounding human trafficking victims.
The 8 Days film will debut in Waco January 27th at 7pm, followed by a Q&A with Unbound and JSL. Tickets are $10, and proceeds will benefit JSL, UnBound, and safe houses for minors. Won’t you join us? To bring 8 Days to your city and view the trailer, visit: www.8daysfilm.org.
Emily | JSL Founder and Co-CEO
"Ignoring sex trafficking doesn't make it go away. "
- 8 Days Film
On January 27th, the Waco Hippodrome will host a premiere of "8 Days", a feature film inspired by actual events surrounding victims of human trafficking. The event will benefit JSL and Unbound and will feature a panel discussion on the issue of human trafficking in our city. You don't want to miss it!
[Due to the subject matter, viewer discretion is advised]
The very first Wild Torch fundraiser and gala will be on March 23rd at the Hippodrome Theatre!
Wild torch will be an experience of light and love, truth and beauty. The evening will weave together art and story, unveiling the triumphs of women within the industry through video, dance, theater, live art, music, and more. In every sense, we desire Wild Torch to be an authentic and soul-filling experience, changing women’s lives within our city and throughout the state of Texas.
This past month, our founder Emily Mills wrote a blog post inspired by Matthew Barnett's book "Misfits Welcome". Emily writes about the way Jesus led his people: always humbly walking in dependence with His Father.
To be humbled and inspired, click here!
We've partnered with the most innovative ink company ever! Secor.cc is an ink/toner company dedicated to aiding in the fight against human trafficking.
The idea is to allow you to make a real difference to real people with a purchase you are already making.
If you buy ink and want to help in this fight against human trafficking, we suggest you check them out! http://secor.cc/
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