The sexual exploitation of women by means of trafficking for purposes of prostitution is escalating rapidly throughout the world. Earlier in the year, a Global Women group participated in a ministry to prostitutes in Prague, Czech Republic, led by GW board member Lauran Bethell.
Lauran lives in Prague and has cultivated a small group of individuals with a heart for reaching women in prostitution. They meet on a regular basis to pray for the women and the ministry in Prague. After prayer and preparation, the team goes to the streets, meeting with young women who are far from home.
“We go to the streets to meet the prostitutes because I think that’s where Jesus would be ministering if he were physically present with us now,” said Lauran, “and so we must be His presence there.”
As the team and I navigated the streets of downtown Prague, we were led to a section of prostitutes. Immediately a woman approached us. “Please pray for my family,” she cried as she reached for my hand. “I am a long way from home and worried about my children.” As I prayed I was overwhelmed by the greatness of God’s love for that woman and all the women who find themselves in similar situations.
Numerous prostitutes throughout the world are trafficked from other countries. Women are often tricked or forced to leave their homes for a promised salary that is thought will provide for family members and themselves. Sex trafficking is a billion-dollar business that pays little or nothing to women who find themselves trapped in a web of mistreatment.
The Protection Project, an organization for the elimination of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, has compiled the following statistics:
–The United Nations estimates that 700,000 to 4 million women and children are trafficked around the world for purposes of forced prostitution, labor and other forms of exploitation every year. Trafficking is estimated to be a $7 billion dollar annual business.
–Victims of trafficking are subject to gross human rights violations including, rape, torture, forced abortions, starvation and threats of torturing or murdering family members.
–Nearly every country is involved in the web of trafficking activities, either as a country of origin, destination or transit. Countries of destination include France, Israel, United Kingdom and the United States.
–Traffickers recruit women and children through deceptive means including falsified employment advertisements for domestic workers, waitresses and other low-skilled work. Traffickers include those involved in highly sophisticated networks of organized crime and may be as close to home as a relative to the victim.
Lauran Bethell will be a featured speaker at the first International Consultation on Ministry to Women in Prostitution, scheduled Aug. 7-13 at Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wis. Global Women is one of five sponsors of the event, along with the Baptist World Alliance Women’s Department, American Baptist Historical Society, American Baptist International Ministries and American Baptist Women’s Ministries.
Philip Yancey, editor-at-large for Christianity Today magazine is scheduled as a special guest speaker. Elaine Storkey of Oxford University will be a plenary speaker.
The gathering will feature testimonies of leaders working with women around the world, stories of women who have been rescued from prostitution and discussion panels with international guests. Several workshops are planned, along with daily praise and worship services.
For more information, click here to go the consultation Web site.
Suzanah Raffield is executive director of Global Women, an organization formed in 2001 to promote woman-to-woman missions initiative. This article is adapted from the Spring 2004 issue of the Global Women newsletter, Voices. It is used with permission. Click here to go to the Global Women Web site.