Last week I had an opportunity to attend a symposium, Trade of Innocents: A Global Perspective on Human Trafficking, at Yale Law School and preview the movie, “Trade of Innocents” which will be released in the fall. The film, starring Mira Sorvino and Dermot Mulroney, is a very moving depiction of the painful reality of child sex-trafficking in Cambodia.
Julie and Director of Trade of Innocents, Christopher Bessette
Those of us who attended the symposium heard from a distinguished panel of speakers on the topic of human trafficking including how law enforcement and non-government organizations (NGO’s) such as AIM partner to fight against the issue. Special Agents from the FBI and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children discussed their strategies for investigations and shared cases of successful rescues of girls and the prosecutions of their traffickers.
It was amazing to see the number of people, NGO’s, attorney’s, law enforcement, professors and students who have joined together to fight human trafficking by becoming more aware of the issue. The truth is that the crime of sexual exploitation is a global issue and many people in the U.S. think it doesn’t happen in “my city,” when it is. At the end of the symposium, I left with new resources, contacts and encouraged to know that God is in the middle of this issue, as overwhelming as it is.
With the local problem of sex-trafficking and the international reality that it affects most nations, many people ask, “Why is AIM focused in Cambodia?” The co-founders of AIM’s Anti-Trafficking Initiatives, Don and Bridget Brewster, have first and foremost been called to Cambodia because it is internationally recognized as the place where child sex-trafficking is the most culturally accepted and widespread. Basically, Cambodia is where child sex-trafficking daily ravages the most lives in the world.
Don and Bridget are immersed in the village of Svay Pak which became notorious as a destination village for pedophiles looking for very young girls. At one time brothels in Svay Pak lined a main street and young girls were advertised in the open.
The village is being transformed, many brothels have been shut down but Cambodia continues to largely accept the sexual exploitation of young children. We continue to fight this mentality as we develop relationships, bringing a new awareness to families that their children are to be protected and valued as precious gifts. Through the Church we are training villages the traps of traffickers.
Our hope is that, by honing our strategies and ending child sex-trafficking in the most notorious place on earth, we can replicate these programs everywhere. One of our next steps is training US Foster-care programs on aftercare for rescued girls.
More of that in the coming months!
There is still much work to do and it is only through your financial and prayer support that we will succeed.