Friday, May 14, 2010

Hitting the Books

I've been doing a lot of reading lately... a lot. I could link and link and link articles on here, videos on here, and flood this blog with statistics that would make you scream. Deep breath. Restraint. Today I will post an article/blog post by Anne Jackson of Flowerdust, which is a site that has lots to read on it (at this point in my head is running the old, "but don't take my word for it" from Reading Rainbow).

Breaking News: American Orphans Get Kicked Out of Public Schools, Nowhere to Go: Predators Wait

At the end of their freshman year of high school, American orphans are left fending for themselves. No longer integrated into the public school system, the federal government provides each orphan with $120 and a wish of “Good luck!” as they drop them in their respective inner cities.

These children stop to purchase a cell phone or some clothes, and then go one of two ways: Some move back to their neighborhoods, although they lack any family or connections, and others attempt to find jobs.

However, predators are numerous and falsely advertise vague jobs in the newspaper, offering a doorway into trafficking under the guise of legit employment opportunities. Others wait in the neighborhoods for those who do return, pretending to be employers looking for workers.

Most of these orphans end up kidnapped and working in Mexico and Canada, making pennies a day for sexual services.

That would be shocking, wouldn’t it? We’d be enraged. Rally.

Thankfully, that is not the scenario in the states. However…

While we’re here in Moldova, we’re trying to learn everything we can. Yesterday, we started at the beginning — how do so many children (20-25% of Moldova’s population, most orphaned and most female between 16-24) end up being sex trafficked? Where does this cycle begin?

A lot of the problem begins through the orphanage system.

Take, for instance, the eleven year old girl we met yesterday at an orphanage. At fifteen, she’ll be released out into the world on her own, with no family or connection to anybody out in the city. The government will provide her with a small sum of money, not even enough to rent a room for a month.

This girl is completely vulnerable…and the predators know it.

They’ll advertise “real” jobs in papers, promising good work in other bordering countries. Naive and unsuspecting, these girls will go for an interview, and typically get drugged, kidnapped, and moved into another country. Their papers will be stripped away and changed and they’ll gain a new identity.
Sex slave.

Not knowing how to escape, being violated and told they’re worthless, and that nobody cares, they see no hope — no reason to escape. Some commit suicide.

The reality is nobody really will miss them. Moldova is a small country, and 30,000 women and children disappear every year without a trace. Without identities.

Nobody knows they’re gone, and nobody misses them.

As we sat in a rather large orphanage yesterday, I couldn’t help but stare at each girl. They varied in age from maybe five or six to teenagers, and I knew the teenagers would be soon sent out on their own to fend for themselves. Some may find a transitional home which will help educate them, put them through tenth-twelfth grade (or beyond) and keep them safe. But there would be some who would simply disappear.

And nobody would know.

A year from now, I wonder if I’ll even remember their faces – glowing brightly with youth and what I could only imagine is hope.

Or will I also forget as they disappear into a system of the worst kind of crime and suffering?

Today, we are meeting with some organizations that are on the solution side of this issue. I hope tomorrow’s update will have a better ending than the stories I heard today.

(**Note: Just in case it wasnt clear the story about American orphans is not true. It is a parallel to what is happening here in EU and Russia for context.)

I've also created a new blog roll of blogs and sites I'm finding helpful in learning about the sex trafficking industry; if you know of others, please let me know!

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