Archive for May, 2012

The Numbers, the numbers, can’t get away from the NUMBERS!

“Tens of thousands of young girls are being forced into prostitution in the U.S…” according to Shared Hope International. ( That’s the numbers I’m writing about and behind each digit is a little person with a withering soul who cries out to be free.  At least a soul who is screaming deep down inside amidst the darkness. I am encouraged to read on this website about “Protected Innocence Initiative – State Action – National Change.” The numbers are what my finite mind can’t fathom, but the ache for freedom I partially understand as an American. The statistics, the numbers. Perhaps I have seen their young faces in passing at a Walmart checkout line, at truckstops, at gas stations or restaurants.  Not too likely to see these unidentified “numbers” at the movies, plays or concerts I attend. I live a sheltered life.

A book written by Linda Smith and Cindy Coloma is titled “Renting Lacy: A Story of America’s Prostituted Children (Call to Action).” I haven’t read it yet but the stories will be in that book of child prostitutes who are way below the age of consent.  Stories we can embrace better than numbers. What I can’t get over is that these children should be embraced by loving parents and grandparents in their lives. Instead they are used and used over and over again.  What I’ve read from a pamphlet of Shared Hope International is that 13 years old is the average age of children who are forced into prostitution.  AVERAGE number! There is nothing average about this…it is substandard, inhumane.  We as Americans treat our dogs and cats better than many of these children.

In fact, I just read on the website the individual report cards for each different state and what they do about prosecuting crimes, such as child pornography which feeds into child prostitution.  Apparently according to this calculation on the website, Washington state gets a “B” rating as does Texas, Illinois and Missouri. That was a surprise. Whereas, North Dakota and South Dakota get “F” grades.  Minnesota and Arizona comes out with “C” grades but even this is mind boggling.  Look up the factsheets for yourself, the crime in North Dakota for “Hiring an individual to engage in sexual activity” is considered as a Classification Class B misdemeanor with 30 days max and fine $1,000 max.  A misdemeanor???!!! That’s a very lame word and a low number for jail time and penalty!

Linda Smith who organized this SHI platform to fight child trafficking reportedly said the following:  “We need to mourn the selling of innocents. And we need to, as believers, ask God to forgive us for our apathy and go out there and fight for these kids.”  I agree with her.  “The ready availability of internet pornography majoring in the exploitation of teenage girls has greatly fueled stateside demand over the past decade.  Smith hopes to link pornography to sex trafficking in the minds of all men as a deterrent against beginning down a dangerous path…”

Smith also said: “The solution is to dry up demand. If there weren’t demand, there wouldn’t be the child sold. If a few men were hung like crows over the corn, if men thought their life would be dead if they bought children, you better know some of them would stop buying…If you knew that in your city tonight there were 5,000 slaves, would it bother you? Would you do something? What about 500? Would you march if you knew there were 500 people being hurt and enslaved? You would. Well there are, and we can prove it in every city we’ve looked at in the United States.”

What people need is not proof or more numbers but softened hearts who are called into action against such a tragedy that is ongoing in the cities and states we live in.  I was greatly saddened to read about the reality for children that is happening only 70 miles from where I live. Crimes are happening at truck stops along two major interstate highways, these ribbons of transit going north and south (I-29) and then east and west (I-94). Young child prostitutes are derogatorily termed “lot lizards” and sent from truck to truck by order of CB radio.  What?!

Yes, “Real Men Don’t Buy Sex” is a poster I’ve seen or a t-shirt that is worn by some abolitionists. We need changed hearts, we need broken hearts for the victims.  We need more people like Linda Smith to make us all more aware of the little girls named Lacy who are rented out every night.  Smith said this and I’ve seen it before: “There’s a saying on the street that a drug can be sold once, a girl over and over…the younger they are, the more money they get by the hour.”

I didn’t write anything today about Kazakhstan in this post but if they are wanting to emulate developed countries, such as the U.S., they should be on the right side of the law and stopping the demand in their country with better laws.  But I’ll add this at the end, I was encouraged that Kazakh students had a fun run last weekend which was sponsored by the U.S. embassy in Astana called “Run a Mile against the Wile.” Many young Kazakh students participated and wore t-shirts that broadcast their taking sides against the tragic numbers. May this trend of awareness continue in Kazakhstan and in North Dakota and the rest of the U.S.

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“Give Us, Us Free!” and modern day slavery

Last night we watched the 1997 movie Amistad. I was horrified anew at how awful slavery was back in the early 1800s.  Steve Spielberg knows just how to capture a moment in time and make it feel as if you were actually there. I’m certain the terror exists in the minds of most all who have watched Amistad. Some scenes were seared into our collective memory whether we liked it or not. Kind of like the murder shower scene in Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” That kind of wretched sickness that graphically shows the depravity of man.

What I think is the best part of the film comes at the very end (if you can endure the torture and blood) which features a speech by the former President John Quincy Adams. His character is expertly played by Anthony Hopkins. Adams does battle with words in the courtroom in front of the U.S. Supreme Court justices. Twenty years later this would be played out in the blood bath on the battle fields of the American Civil War.

A powerful moment in the movie is when the leader of the captured slaves (Cinque) from the ship named Amistad stands up in the middle of a very tense court scene. He pleads with his hands in shackles to the judge, attorneys and other spectators of the case, “Give us, us free.”  The Africans off the Amistad ship had been incarcerated for two years while this legal battle over property rights was going on.  Cinque had picked up enough English to express his desires by essentially saying “Give us our freedom.”

I think that is what trafficked victims from all over the world want, their freedom.  But they are immobilized by fear and they have no advocates to help them through the labyrinth of courtroom procedures if they ever escape and bring their case to justice.  Perhaps it would take legal proceedings like what happened to Amistad to get the world’s attention that we have a modern day problem of slavery still.

Where are the erudite, sage statesmen today who are willing to use all their knowledge and faculties to help those less fortunate who need someone to stand in the gap for them?  I was encouraged to see the Holy Bible took a prominent place in this Speilberg film that showed the suffering of the Jewish people under the slave drivers in Egypt.  Then the story continued with how Jesus took a cruel death even though he didn’t deserve it because he healed, protected people, enjoyed children, walked on water.  He was killed on a cross but then he was resurrected and went up to heaven.  One of the Africans on trial pieced together the Bible stories to take comfort and had hope for what they were going through.  They were eventually returned home to their native land in Africa.  I wonder who their descendants are and how they are doing now that they have “freedom.”

I also wonder who will step up to the plate and be an advocate for present day people who are trapped in slavery?  Here is how Barrister Adams appealed to the Supreme Court justices, his speech in its entirety.

John Quincy Adams: “Your Honors, I derive much consolation from the fact that my colleague, Mr. Baldwin, here, has argued the case in so able and so complete a manner as to leave me scarcely anything to say.

However, why are we here? How is it that a simple, plain property issue should now find itself so ennobled as to be argued before the Supreme Court of the United States of America? I mean, do we fear the lower courts, which found for us easily, somehow missed the truth? Is that it? Or is it, rather, our great and consuming fear of civil war that has allowed us to heap symbolism upon a simple case that never asked for it and now would have us disregard truth, even as it stands before us, tall and proud as a mountain? The truth, in truth, has been driven from this case like a slave, flogged from court to court, wretched and destitute. And not by any great legal acumen on the part of the opposition, I might add, but through the long, powerful arm of the Executive Office.

Yea, this is no mere property case, gentlemen. I put it to you thus: This is the most important case ever to come before this court. Because what it, in fact, concerns is the very nature of man.

These are transcriptions of letters written between our Secretary of State, John Forsyth, and the Queen of Spain, Isabella the Second. Now, I ask that you accept their perusal as part of your deliberations.

I would not touch on them now except to notice a curious phrase which is much repeated. The queen again and again refers to our incompetent courts. Now what, I wonder, would be more to her liking? Huh? A court that finds [judgment] against the Africans? Well, I think not. And here is the fine point of it: What her majesty wants is a court that behaves just like her courts, the courts this eleven year-old child plays with in her magical kingdom called Spain, a court that will do what it is told, a court that can be toyed with like a doll, a court — as it happens — of which our own President, Martin Van Buren, would be most proud.

This is a publication of the Office of the President. It’s called the Executive Review, and I’m sure you all read it. At least I’m sure the President hopes you all read it. This is a recent issue, and there’s an article in here written by a “keen mind of the South,” who is my former Vice President, John Calhoun, perhaps — Could it be? — who asserts that:

“There has never existed a civilized society in which one segment did not thrive upon the labor of another. As far back as one chooses to look — to ancient times, to biblical times — history bears this out. In Eden, where only two were created, even there one was pronounced subordinate to the other. Slavery has always been with us and is neither sinful nor immoral. Rather, as war and antagonism are the natural states of man, so, too, slavery, as natural as it is inevitable.”

Now, gentlemen, I must say I differ with the keen minds of the South, and with our president, who apparently shares their views, offering that the natural state of mankind is instead — and I know this is a controversial idea — is freedom. Is freedom. And the proof is the length to which a man, woman, or child will go to regain it, once taken. He will break loose his chains, He will decimate his enemies. He will try and try and try against all odds, against all prejudices, to get home.

Cinque, would you stand up, if you would, so everyone can see you. This man is black. We can all see that. But can we also see as easily that which is equally true — that he is the only true hero in this room.

Now, if he were white, he wouldn’t be standing before this court fighting for his life. If he were white and his enslavers were British, he wouldn’t be able to stand, so heavy the weight of the medals and honors we would bestow upon him. Songs would be written about him. The great authors of our times would fill books about him. His story would be told and retold in our classrooms. Our children, because we would make sure of it, would know his name as well as they know Patrick Henry’s.

Yet, if the South is right, what are we to do with that embarrassing, annoying document, “The Declaration of Independence?” What of its conceits? “All men…created equal,” “inalienable rights,” “life,” “liberty,” and so on and so forth? What on earth are we to do with this?

I have a modest suggestion. [tears up a facsimile of the Declaration]

The other night I was talking with my friend, Cinque. He was over at my place, and we were out in the greenhouse together. And he was explaining to me how when a member of the Mende — that’s his people —  how when a member of the Mende encounters a situation where there appears no hope at all, he invokes his ancestors. It’s a tradition. See, the Mende believe that if one can summon the spirits of one’s ancestors, then they have never left, and the wisdom and strength they fathered and inspired will come to his aid.

James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams: We’ve long resisted asking you for guidance. Perhaps we have feared in doing so we might acknowledge that our individuality which we so, so revere is not entirely our own. Perhaps we’ve feared an appeal to you might be taken for weakness. But, we’ve come to understand, finally, that this is not so. We understand now, we’ve been made to understand, and to embrace the understanding that who we are is who we were.

We desperately need your strength and wisdom to triumph over our fears, our prejudices, our-selves. Give us the courage to do what is right. And if it means civil war, then let it come. And when it does, may it be, finally, the last battle of the American Revolution.

That’s all I have to say.”

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Poems by Anna Ahmatova (Part II)

Continued from yesterday’s blog posting, translated into English by Sasha Soldatow. Anna Ahmatova somehow knew how to write of her dark experiences in the former Soviet Union.  Perhaps not unlike contemporary slavery that prevails in human trafficking which continues unabated around the world.



The word landed with a stony thud

Onto my still-beating breast.

Never mind, I was prepared,

I will manage with the rest.

I have a lot of work to do today;

I need to slaughter memory,

Turn my living soul to stone

Then teach myself to live again. . .

But how. The hot summer rustles

Like a carnival outside my window;

I have long had this premonition

Of a bright day and a deserted house.

[22 June 1939. Summer. Fontannyi Dom]



You will come anyway – so why not now?

I wait for you; things have become too hard.

I have turned out the lights and opened the door

For you, so simple and so wonderful.

Assume whatever shape you wish. Burst in

Like a shell of noxious gas. Creep up on me

Like a practised bandit with a heavy weapon.

Poison me, if you want, with a typhoid exhalation,

Or, with a simple tale prepared by you

(And known by all to the point of nausea), take me

Before the commander of the blue caps and let me glimpse

The house administrator’s terrified white face.

I don’t care anymore. The river Yenisey

Swirls on. The Pole star blazes.

The blue sparks of those much-loved eyes

Close over and cover the final horror.

[19 August 1939. Fontannyi Dom]


Madness with its wings

Has covered half my soul

It feeds me fiery wine

And lures me into the abyss.

That’s when I understood

While listening to my alien delirium

That I must hand the victory

To it.

However much I nag

However much I beg

It will not let me take

One single thing away:

Not my son’s frightening eyes –

A suffering set in stone,

Or prison visiting hours

Or days that end in storms

Nor the sweet coolness of a hand

The anxious shade of lime trees

Nor the light distant sound

Of final comforting words.

[14 May 1940. Fontannyi Dom



Weep not for me, mother.

I am alive in my grave.


A choir of angels glorified the greatest hour,

The heavens melted into flames.

To his father he said, ‘Why hast thou forsaken me!’

But to his mother, ‘Weep not for me. . .’

[1940. Fontannyi Dom]


Magdalena smote herself and wept,

The favourite disciple turned to stone,

But there, where the mother stood silent,

Not one person dared to look.

[1943. Tashkent]



I have learned how faces fall,

How terror can escape from lowered eyes,

How suffering can etch cruel pages

Of cuneiform-like marks upon the cheeks.

I know how dark or ash-blond strands of hair

Can suddenly turn white. I’ve learned to recognise

The fading smiles upon submissive lips,

The trembling fear inside a hollow laugh.

That’s why I pray not for myself

But all of you who stood there with me

Through fiercest cold and scorching July heat

Under a towering, completely blind red wall.


The hour has come to remember the dead.

I see you, I hear you, I feel you:

The one who resisted the long drag to the open window;

The one who could no longer feel the kick of familiar

soil beneath her feet;

The one who, with a sudden flick of her head, replied,

‘I arrive here as if I’ve come home!’

I’d like to name you all by name, but the list

Has been removed and there is nowhere else to look.

So, I have woven you this wide shroud out of the humble words

I overheard you use. Everywhere, forever and always,

I will never forget one single thing. Even in new grief.

Even if they clamp shut my tormented mouth

Through which one hundred million people scream;

That’s how I wish them to remember me when I am dead

On the eve of my remembrance day.

If someone someday in this country

Decides to raise a memorial to me,

I give my consent to this festivity

But only on this condition – do not build it

By the sea where I was born,

I have severed my last ties with the sea;

Nor in the Tsar’s Park by the hallowed stump

Where an inconsolable shadow looks for me;

Build it here where I stood for three hundred hours

And no-one slid open the bolt.

Listen, even in blissful death I fear

That I will forget the Black Marias,

Forget how hatefully the door slammed and an old woman

Howled like a wounded beast.

Let the thawing ice flow like tears

From my immovable bronze eyelids

And let the prison dove coo in the distance

While ships sail quietly along the river.

[March 1940. Fontannyi Dom]

First published Sasha Soldatow Mayakovsky in Bondi Black Wattle Press 1993 Sydney.

Translated by Sasha Soldatow


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Poems by Anna Ahmatova (Part I)

I found this Requiem translated from Anna Ahmatova’s writing and thought it appropriate to show the first part today. Tomorrow I will post the remainder.  Tough stuff, probably no different than what a trafficked victim experiences and feels like.

                        Not under foreign skies

                        Nor under foreign wings protected  –

                        I shared all this with my own people

                        There, where misfortune had abandoned us.



During the frightening years of the Yezhov terror, I

spent seventeen months waiting in prison queues in

Leningrad. One day, somehow, someone ‘picked me out’.

On that occasion there was a woman standing behind me,

her lips blue with cold, who, of course, had never in

her life heard my name. Jolted out of the torpor

characteristic of all of us, she said into my ear

(everyone whispered there) – ‘Could one ever describe

this?’ And I answered – ‘I can.’ It was then that

something like a smile slid across what had previously

been just a face.

[The 1st of April in the year 1957. Leningrad]


Mountains fall before this grief,

A mighty river stops its flow,

But prison doors stay firmly bolted

Shutting off the convict burrows

And an anguish close to death.

Fresh winds softly blow for someone,

Gentle sunsets warm them through; we don’t know this,

We are everywhere the same, listening

To the scrape and turn of hateful keys

And the heavy tread of marching soldiers.

Waking early, as if for early mass,

Walking through the capital run wild, gone to seed,

We’d meet – the dead, lifeless; the sun,

Lower every day; the Neva, mistier:

But hope still sings forever in the distance.

The verdict. Immediately a flood of tears,

Followed by a total isolation,

As if a beating heart is painfully ripped out, or,

Thumped, she lies there brutally laid out,

But she still manages to walk, hesitantly, alone.

Where are you, my unwilling friends,

Captives of my two satanic years?

What miracle do you see in a Siberian blizzard?

What shimmering mirage around the circle of the moon?

I send each one of you my salutation, and farewell.

[March 1940]



It happened like this when only the dead

Were smiling, glad of their release,

That Leningrad hung around its prisons

Like a worthless emblem, flapping its piece.

Shrill and sharp, the steam-whistles sang

Short songs of farewell

To the ranks of convicted, demented by suffering,

As they, in regiments, walked along –

Stars of death stood over us

As innocent Russia squirmed

Under the blood-spattered boots and tyres

Of the black marias.


You were taken away at dawn. I followed you

As one does when a corpse is being removed.

Children were crying in the darkened house.

A candle flared, illuminating the Mother of God. . .

The cold of an icon was on your lips, a death-cold sweat

On your brow – I will never forget this; I will gather


To wail with the wives of the murdered streltsy

Inconsolably, beneath the Kremlin towers.

[1935. Autumn. Moscow]


Silent flows the river Don

A yellow moon looks quietly on

Swanking about, with cap askew

It sees through the window a shadow of you

Gravely ill, all alone

The moon sees a woman lying at home

Her son is in jail, her husband is dead

Say a prayer for her instead.


It isn’t me, someone else is suffering. I couldn’t.

Not like this. Everything that has happened,

Cover it with a black cloth,

Then let the torches be removed. . .



Giggling, poking fun, everyone’s darling,

The carefree sinner of Tsarskoye Selo

If only you could have foreseen

What life would do with you –

That you would stand, parcel in hand,

Beneath the Crosses, three hundredth in line,

Burning the new year’s ice

With your hot tears.

Back and forth the prison poplar sways

With not a sound – how many innocent

Blameless lives are being taken away. . .



For seventeen months I have been screaming,

Calling you home.

I’ve thrown myself at the feet of butchers

For you, my son and my horror.

Everything has become muddled forever –

I can no longer distinguish

Who is an animal, who a person, and how long

The wait can be for an execution.

There are now only dusty flowers,

The chinking of the thurible,

Tracks from somewhere into nowhere

And, staring me in the face

And threatening me with swift annihilation,

An enormous star.



Weeks fly lightly by. Even so,

I cannot understand what has arisen,

How, my son, into your prison

White nights stare so brilliantly.

Now once more they burn,

Eyes that focus like a hawk,

And, upon your cross, the talk

Is again of death.

[1939. Spring]

(to be continued)

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Kazakhstan’s Cultural “Kuwans”

I lived in the Philippines a long, long time ago (1981-83). After living in so many countries, there are words you wished you could use to be understood by other Americans.  “Kuwan” is one of those words that lingers in my lexicon and is sorely underused.  For anyone who has spent any length of time in the Philippines, you will know that “kuwan” is a good catch-all term for anything that you don’t have a name for.  I am not writing about human trafficking today as I have this past year but solely on Kazakhstan’s cultural “kuwans.”

An American friend of ours from California who we know from Astana, Kazakhstan recently wrote the following about what she observed as “interesting.”  Yes, I was taken back on memory lane to some of these same things that I experienced while living in Kazakhstan.

On April 28, it was Whitewash Saturday.  Everyone in a school or business, home or apartment is required to clean the outside of their place, wash windows, whitewash the curbs, the bottom 3 ft. of the trees, and anything else that might look dirty.  It is amazing, the whole city is at work whether you are a student, professor, business owner, employee or resident.

Supposedly wind in the air, fans or open windows causes you to get sick.  It is really “fun” to ride in a taxi or a crowded bus with all the windows shut in mid summer!

A cold drink gives you a sore throat the next day.  No ice cubes here! [probably just as well because you don’t know what was in the water before it was frozen]

Sitting on cement makes you sterile. This is for women only!

You never hand people money but lay it on the table otherwise your money will be gone the next day.  Also, your purse should never touch the floor for the same reason.

Recently a man died in his sleep in our apartment building.  The stream of visitors was a tribute to this man’s life.  On the second day his body was brought back to the house for everyone to say good bye.  The following morning a funeral was conducted in our parking lot where his body could be viewed by men only–women not allowed.  It seems that in Muslim custom, the dead man is at peace.  Crying women would only disturb him thus they are never allowed to view or bury him.  Only a day later are they allowed to visit his grave.

Did I tell you milk and juices come in boxes?  That sugar, flour and eggs come in clear plastic bags?  Eggs are sold by the 10 not a dozen.  Fruit, with many blemishes, is preferred for it is proof of being natural, more healthy and tasty.  A loaf of bread is about 35 cents, no preservatives and spoils within a day or so–but really delicious.

I was amazed once again to watch packages being prepared for mailing.  First, things are packed in a box and it is sealed with tape.  Then a burlap bag is put over the package and the end is sewed together by hand and then globs of black wax seal the thread.  Following this, they use a black marker to write the addresses, etc on the burlap.  A small package, wrapped in brown paper and sealed with wide postal tape was again wrapped in brown paper and sealed with tape  and a string tied around it.  Is this overkill?  You can imagine how long all of this takes and the lines waiting for help. One postal worker does it all.

I’ve never seen an envelope here in Kazakhstan.  Cards are sold or presented without one and bills [for utilities] are a folded piece of paper either left in the hall for each to find or stuck in your door.  Mail is not delivered and only a small boot sized box in the post office holds incoming mail.

I was so surprised to find a package of about 10 envelopes for 50 tenge–about 35 cents.  I needed some so I went to buy the package and found out they are 35 cents each!  A rare and expensive find I think.

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What Rotary is doing about Child Slavery

Ironically, the International conference for all Rotarians from around the world was held in Bangkok, Thailand last week. I’m told around 30,000 people showed up.  I got a report from someone who just returned on a 20 hour trip via Japan. (It took 20 hours to get there too, no thank you long flights over the Pacific!) I am happy to report there are a few Rotarians who are doing something about child slavery. Mark Little represented his concern in the Friendship Hall at his booth from Norfolk, England.  He gave out buttons “Defeat Sex Trafficking.” I believe he was a very lonely voice among all the other action groups represented in the huge hall.  What I find MOST ironic is that the Rotary convention was held in Bangkok which has their highest income based on people from all over the world coming for the sex tourism.

Bangkok is well known for sex trafficking and what my friend told me was she saw very few children on the streets as they made their 45 minute bus trip from their hotel to and from the convention center. She did see much abject poverty while also seeing where the king of Thailand lives. (Supposedly he is much loved by his people.) They went on a tour of the city and their tour guide could not answer questions about the royal family, otherwise she could lose her job.  Her English was good which is probably what saved her from the dismal prospects of any young person growing up in Thailand.

Since Rotary’s inception over one hundred years ago they have been all about saving children from polio, the disease is nearly eradicated.  The organization that has been saving children from polio now finds that children live in poverty and are vulnerable to being a trafficked victim (enslaved) in manual labor or the sex industry. My friend told me something that was an eye-opener.  There are organizations giving out seed money to women so they can create their own industry and sell their own product.  Otherwise, some women will purposely get pregnant in order to later sell their children into slavery.  I can’t even imagine a woman doing that as we celebrate “Mother’s Day” in the U.S. today.  That is how desperate people have become in many countries.

That is why I was happy to find this factsheet from where Mark Little is the committee chairman of the “Proposed Rotarian Action Group.”  The following is what I found VERY sobering from his website:

RACS Factsheet 1

12 facts about Modern Slavery

  •  Slavery is not legal anywhere but happens everywhere.
  • Modern slavery shares two key characteristics that distinguishes it from slavery in the past:  slaves to day are cheap and they are disposable.
  • There are 27 million slaves in the world today. The majority are children.
  • Slavery: Forced to work without pay, under threat of violence and unable to walk away.
  • The majority of slaves can be found in India and in African countries.
  • 4,000 slaves are trafficked each year into Britain; 17,500 into USA.
  • Child slaves work in brick kiln works, clothing, firework and glass making factories, stone quarries, carpet looms, mines, brothels and farms – anywhere they can be better hidden from law enforcement agencies
  • The modern-day slave trade is now called human trafficking.
  • The average costs of a child slave can be as little as $40 – $90
  • Slave holders use many terms to avoid the word slavery: debt bondage, bonded labour,attached labour, restavec, forced labour and indentured servitude.
  • Obstacles stand in the way to ending slavery: lack of resources and lack of awareness.
  • Everyone has a role to play in ending slavery – government, international organizations, business, NGOs, consumers, Rotary clubs, YOU.

Old Slavery                                             New Slavery

Legal ownership asserted                                  Legal ownership usually not asserted

High purchase cost                                               Very low purchase cost

Low profits                                                               Very high profits

Shortage of potential slaves                                 Glut of potential slaves

Long-term relationship                                         Short-term relationship

Ethnic differences important                               Ethnic differences less important

Slaves maintained                                                            Slaves disposable

 (to be continued)

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Be Careful and Be Warned Anti-Abolitionists!!!

I don’t even know where to begin. Why are westerners complacent about human trafficking? Is it because they think slavery has been abolished and totally eradicated with the passing of time since the Civil War in America? Was that not a war worth fighting for? Some people in their ivory towers believe that we should NEVER, ever be in war, no matter what is at stake, even freedom for those less fortunate or less educated.  Apparently these same, self-acclaimed peace-niks believe they are absolved and have moved on to a higher plane with electing a “black” president. All past pain is forgiven and forgotten? But my question is: “Shouldn’t there be an all out war and campaign against human trafficking?”

Instead some “intelligent” people war with their words and put down our best efforts as abolitionists while we try to make others aware of the sin in our fallen world.  However, just because they don’t believe in sin or our fallen natures and they don’t believe in God either, they feel off the hook ethically and morally.  Twisted logic would have them parrot the following questions when they are caught in their painted-in corner, “Why does God allow suffering in the world?  OR Where is YOUR God now?” They have such audacity to ask these type of questions when they have no solution to help those who are not free to help themselves.

Who is morally outraged about the poor people in today’s world who are conscripted to work on ego building projects? Mere statistics who somehow disappear because these people are just numbers and not your own son or daughter, husband or wife.  How can insensitive people continue to laugh at sasha cohen who inflamed the honor and dignity of Kazakh people by filming his movie titled Barot? This despicable movie was actually filmed in Romania and NOT in Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, the Romanian people continue to suffer (read human trafficking BIG time in that last statement).  Please read this interesting blog about what the Romanians remember of their suffering under communism even 23 years after their “beloved” leader succumbed to the “people’s wishes.”

For now, I would hope that my dear Kazakhstan has not fallen into a similar plight that Romania was led down with all their building projects under a egomaniac. Trafficking has been rampant in both countries.  Yet I’m proud to report that there are some people in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, who are trying to raise awareness, money and donations of clothes for those victims who are in transition in trafficking shelters.  Read the latest upbeat report about what just took place.

“NU hosted a concert in aid of human trafficking awareness on May 4 in the Atrium. NU has been active in collecting clothes for victims who have been rescued or escaped from conditions of sex or labour servitude which has been much appreciated by the organisations active in this area.  Adila and Medina, who are well known to many in NU, opened the concert before a short speech from Olga, the local organiser for the International Organisation for Migration thanking NU for its continuing assistance and interest, then Serik & Kana performed Russian Bard music   The evening finished with a collection in aid of a legal aid fund for rescued victims of trafficking in north Kazakhstan currently involved in a court case to which participants responded generously!”

My last plea would be to those smart, but godless, people who think they know so much about how to solve the world’s problems without God. They seem to believe that certain leaders in our world can save us from ourselves, but just look at the recent history of Mao Tse Tung, Lenin, Stalin AND of course Hitler.  We, as Christians, understand that the Bible has valuable lessons recorded from ancient history so we can learn about what effective leaders and selfish leaders did.  King David was a man after God’s own heart but he eventually sinned, he fell from God’s grace and paid for the consequences.

Hopefully our nation of the U.S. will not have to pay similar penalties for its willful ignorance about slavery (sex trafficking) going on in the rest of the world and in our own country.  I challenge the agnostics and atheists who read my blog to give me an answer to why they do NOTHING to help others out of slavery while blaming God (who they don’t believe in) for the problem. Spit in the eye of freedom because Someone else died for you so that you can be hasty in your judgment of me as a Christian abolitionist.  Be careful and be warned.

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Let the Defense Begin!!!

My former student Aigerim responded immediately to my blog of yesterday.  Aigerim referred to Madina who I don’t know but liked how she articulated her situation in Kazakhstan through the posting in Vox Populi.  Aigerim presses on a point that I want to make about another former colleague of mine who taught in the same English department in Almaty as I did.  We all got bruised and bumped around by the supposed “administrators” who ultimately “cut off their nose to spite their face” in the decisions they make.  It seems hard to think that their way of administration is democratic or fair.  Nay, I witnessed many injustices.  I like what Aigerim in Astana wrote:

“This young woman, Madina is an image of modern Kazakhs, they see the wrong but are not confident to make a step for a change. Yet Madina is different, she talks on this issue. She just needs support to act. Sadly, most of initiatives of activists are buried into bureaucracy and state control.”

Yes, this is what is happening to my friend in Almaty. Vera recently wrote to me about her problems with the current administration where she is trying to obtain her MA degree in TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).

“Just imagine! Still struggling with KIMEP, trying to defend my thesis. They haven’t given MA Degree to anybody from TESOL. This is the fifth (!) year of our study!!! I’m really fed up with the way they treat people at KIMEP.

Our current advisor, who started this program five years ago, is a very difficult person to deal with. He informed us that he would take a leave for half a year. That means that if we don’t defend in May, the defense will be postponed until next Fall. Then another Advisor will be appointed. With his/ her view… And this will be an endless process. I said that I would give up then.”

This is part of what I wrote back to my beleaguered, Kazakhstani friend Vera,

“This is really depressing news! They are more than willing to accept your tuition money for five years but not let you graduate? It would appear that they don’t want anyone in the Language Center to graduate with an MATESOL degree. You have struggled and worked far too long for this obstacle you are encountering to not be recognized by the top levels of management. The university liberally gives out MA degrees in other business departments throughout the campus to people far less qualified than you and your two other colleagues.

Why should they be holding out in the English department except it would threaten those questionable, Kazakh administrators who are on top who don’t have the credentials or know how. I believe it is really unconscionable for your advisor not to tie up loose ends before he leaves for the U.S.  Whoever is at the top with decision-making is not doing the MATESOL program any favors by making it look impossible to graduate with a graduate degree.  Most sad and perplexing.”

Aigerim is right, anyone who takes the initiative to improve themselves, especially with better education are buried under the weight of state controlled bureaucracy. I quake and shudder to think what will happen to the newly minted undergraduates of the new university in Astana once the first batch graduates in 2014. I suspect this newer generation will not be bland in their revolt from the clueless status quo who were Soviet trained but Kazakh lazy. There I said it, let the defense-iveness begin!

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