Skip to main content

Finding & Filming Hope: My Friends Amaze Me

Friends of mine are in Europe right now, at the tail end of a six-week journey that’s taken them to half a dozen countries. That may not seem unusual (it isn’t, in and of itself), but if you read a couple excerpts from their update emails, you will see this is no ordinary “holiday.”


Vienna:

We visited the Prater, which is an area that consists of mostly trafficking victims. They occupy the street by country, with their pimps sitting in warm cars on the other side. We came early in the night, when pimps were dropping off their girls. It's really awful. We were not allowed to film in the car we were in, plus the area is very dark anyway, but wow, what a horrific place. It is right next to a convention centre, so when business conferences come to town, the girls are in high demand.

We were able to get a piece of footage of a refugee selling newspapers, thanks for praying about that. It is all part of the racism in the laws towards refugees, like we explained in our previous prayer update. (Austria has some very xenopobic laws - there are three "jobs" that refugees are allowed to do there legally - cleaning up garbage from the road, selling newspapers at the train station, and prostitution. That is what they can choose from.)


Zurich:
On Wednesday, we showed up to do an interview with a man who helps Brazilian victims return to Brazil. When we arrived, we realized that we had grabbed the wrong battery for our camera that morning, and were initially so discouraged that we could only do an audio interview with him. But then something really cool happened. He brought in one of the victims he is helping, and when she saw that it was only audio, she said she was willing to tell her story. If we had had the whole camera set up, she probably would have been scared off…
It took us over an hour to fully record her story. It is a really intense thing. For the sake of the film, we had to ask clarifying questions at points, but wanted to do so in a way that was very gentle and kind. Tears ran down her face at certain parts. When we asked her if she had to have sex without a condom, she whimpered and nodded. I will NEVER forget the look in her eyes in that moment. The crazy thing is that she was being exploited in a LEGAL brothel. She decided to testify against her traffickers (who only got a fine), and now lives under police protection in Zurich. Her 2 children and her mom, who live in Brazil, had to move into hiding because the traffickers want to retaliate for her testifying against them. She cannot go back to Brazil because of the danger, and they cannot come here. She has to reapply for permission to stay in Switzerland every 6 months, and who knows what will happen if she gets denied. For the sake of her safety, she asked us to call her by the name "Debra."


Stockholm:

We had a surprise opportunity to lecture to a Bible College class in Stockholm about sex trafficking. The students really responded. One girl said that her three "Christian" guy friends bought their 18 year old friend a prostituted woman as a birthday gift, and another told us that there is an idea being spread in Swedish media that "all sex is good sex." Though Sweden is doing many things right in the fight against sexual exploitation and we are inspired by some of their initiatives, there are still many who fall through the cracks. So sad.


Berlin:
There are over 400,000 prostituted women in Germany, with 1.2 million men a day using them. We drove on some streets where they are, and it was dark and cold. Because there are so many women, the price of buying sex is very low, with the girls fighting each other for customers because they have a quota to make for their pimps. One girl hit on the car window when she saw Jay filming. Not that we were filming her (we do not want to exploit them further so we just film some general shots, but she did not know that).
We spoke to a YWAM social justice class on Friday in Herrnhut, Germany. They started a coffee shop in town that is on a well-travelled trafficking route, from Czech Republic to the West. Every time a truck goes by, they pray, in case victims are being transported.


Paris:

We had two really good interviews today in Paris. One was with a man who runs ZEROMACHO, an men's organization that is encouraging men to say no to buying sex, and even getting them to sign a petition for this. The other man is a film producer and director, who has made films about male domination in society, and he talked a lot about how these norms affect issues like prostitution. He also gave us a copy of his documentary, telling us that we can use clips of it in our film is we wish. After meeting with many people over the last few weeks who refuse to acknowledge demand, it was refreshing to hear these men take a stand. They are not Christians, but still are not afraid to take a stand for what is right on this.


London:
We have three interviews set up in London. The first is with a professor at the London School of Economics who wrote a paper that, through economic theory and vigorous methodology, connects legalization of prostitution to increased trafficking inflows. This is huge. Pray that this interview goes well, as it is one we are really anticipating, and might end up being one of our most important ones for this film.
There are two men who are sex buyers in London who said they'd be willing to meet with us for an interview, but have stopped corresponding. Pray that one or both will contact us back if that is meant to be. And pray that they stop using and abusing women.




Michelle and Jay love Jesus and have (as you’ve just read) a high commitment to bringing light and freedom to the darkness of the sex industry. Watching them live boldly and risk greatly is an encouragement, a blessing, and a challenge to me. 

Find out more about their efforts to fight sex trafficking (including their first documentary, on sex trafficking in Canada) at www.hopeforthesold.com

Comments

MLW said…
Thanks for this post Beth. I am so ignorant of this horrendous abuse that is taking place. Jay and Michelle are truly amazing. I need to remember to be praying for them.
Heather said…
powerful.
encouraging.
distressing.

a much needed blog post.
thank you.

Popular posts from this blog

Fostering FAQ: How Can You Say Goodbye?

It seems I finally have something(s) to say... Here's the first in a short (or maybe long?) series on Fostering FAQs. If you've got a question to add, feel free to comment/email/text/message me and maybe the next post will be in response.

--

8:30 am on Day 4 of parenting. I woke up in a panic two hours ago because I remembered that there is a baby and I am responsible for her (at least at 6:30am, when the man beside me will snore through anything). Now, I have put on clothes and eaten breakfast. The dogs are walked, there is a loaf of banana bread in the oven. My tea is steeping. Most importantly, Dream Baby is already down for her first nap.

Despite my morning efficiency, I'm already beginning to see that even with the happiest, most easygoing, and smiliest baby, like we somehow managed to be given, parenting is a grind. On Friday night, I couldn't join friends for $5 pints at a local joint. Instead, I blearily washed the same 8 bottles again, and then made another ba…

Fostering FAQ: How Long Will She Stay/Will You Adopt Her?

Our first foster baby came with about 18 hours notice; it was respite care, which means we had him for a few days while his regular foster family had a break/dealt with a family emergency. He stayed 3 nights, long enough to come to church and have a dozen people cooing over his little sleeping cheeks.  With each new visitor to our quiet corner, I explained again that he would be going back to his foster family the next day.

Barely a week later, we got a 9am phone call with a fostering request and by the same afternoon, we were snuggling her. This time, we had her for 4 days before church came around. Again, our community was keen to see the little one we had in tow. Again, the question, "How long will she stay?" And this time, "Are you going to adopt her?"

--

Here in Toronto, when a child is placed in foster care, it is always for an indefinite length of time. It depends on the parents' situation, and whether they are able to make a safe home environment for th…

Fostering FAQ: What's Her (Mom's) Story?

This is probably the second most common question I hear about the baby currently in our care, right after, "Will you keep her?"

It comes in many forms:

"So, what's her story?"
"Is her mom in the picture?"
"How did she end up in your home?
"Is her mom a drug addict?"
"How could a mom not love such a cute baby!"

I get it. It's natural curiousity, and I know I've asked similar questions of my friends who are adoptive parents.


But here's what I'm learning: a child's story is their own. And equally as important, the parent's story is their own.

Imagine how it might feel to hear that for the foreseeable future, you are not allowed to care for your child. On top of whatever difficult circumstances you are already in - perhaps poverty, social isolation, lack of adequate housing, domestic violence, intergenerational trauma, drug or alcohol dependency, low cognitive functioning, or a myriad of other complex strug…