THIS BLOG MAY CONTAIN GRAPHIC MATERIAL. READER DISCRETION ADVISED.
Today was an eye opening day for sure. After finally getting the chance to talk with my mom, we went to the morning teaching, where we took in more information we wanted to know about the problem of child trafficking. I learned much that I didn't know before:
Most pedophiles, who are creating the demand that keeps this trade on the rise, are either American or Asian. Americans prefer boys or very young girls, while Asian pedophiles prefer virgins. Brothel "mamasans" make virgins "reusable" by sewing them up, up to 5 times per girl. Of course, when girls are not of use to them anymore, they are left on the streets, which lands them back in a brothel more times than not, or thrown away...literally.
The young boys are often used not only for sexual purposes but also as cheap slave labor. They are more often than not given drugs, usually speed, and hormones, which allow them to both work harder and perform sexually.
A new trend is on the rise as well, and that is the use of pain and suffering in the time pedophiles spend with the children they "rent." The most haunting thing I heard today was the increase in demand for disabled children, which apparently adds to the satisfaction of some pedophiles. Therefore, not only are disabled children becoming more at risk for being taken by traffickers, but they are even hearing stories of children who are intentionally disabled for the purpose of meeting that specific demand. One CHO staff told us the story of a boy they found who could not walk or talk, merely crawl and hum, because of the Polio he was crippled by. They found that he was actually injected with the disease at age 4 for the purpose of crippling him, for this specific new trend. I'm fighting the tears just typing the words. Perfectly healthy children are being crippled and disabled solely to meet the gruesome and evil demands of these very sick and demented men.
If you're like me, your first question is, what is being done about this? How can this be stopped?
While the southeast Asia sex trade flourishes almost exclusively in Thailand, very few of the children affected are Thai children. Most are from Cambodia, Burma, or Vietnam, and are all transported through the very road our hotel sits on. They are hidden in crates and bundles to be smuggled across the border, and once they are through, they are on Thai soil and the Cambodian government has no jurisdiction.
This is where the government, even those who aren't corrupt, has their hands tied. The Cambodian government, who want the kids back, don't have any power on Thai soil, and the government of Thailand cares very little about the plight of what they see as illegal immigrants. The most they will do after a raid of a child brothel or similar establishment is return them to their borders and drop them off with border control, who will either let them run free or even sell them back to traffickers in order to make an extra few dollars.
The NGOs, or non-profits/ministries working to help this problem, are in a similar catch 22, as they must work within the government-sanctioned process of rescuing children, which not only takes enough time for the brothel bosses or traffickers to escape, but also often requires DNA tests in order to prove that the children aren't being taken from biological parents, which the government is not very eager to grant. If the system is bypassed, the NGO staff members risk being caught with children who are not their own, which in turn gets them charged with trafficking, deported, and banned from the country.
Needless to say, the situation is heartbreaking. All the physical obstacles in the way of those people who would take action makes me appreciate even more the need for intercession, because apart from God there can be very little progress in this area. We need breakthrough, we need open doors, we need men and women of integrity in positions of power.
We are not hopeless, however. After this disheartening talk we were able to get a more thorough tour of Safe Haven, where around 40 children have literally been taken out of the hands of traffickers through various rescue processes and live peacefully, happily, and in a loving environment where they can heal and have hope for a better future. We have been priveleged to see one of the organization's newest refugees initiate social interaction for one of the very first times since he has been brought to the center. While the last time our leaders were here he was withdrawn, antisocial, and aggressive at times, I enjoyed him playing and smiling, and swinging! Though he still does not talk much, we are seeing tremendous progress as he heals!
So, here's to hope. I'm praising God for the work He is doing through CHO and all of the full time ministers he is bringing to this area. And I'm hopeful that through a Christian presence in this city, and through our prayers, these systems can be brought down, for good.