The Family Problem of Fighting Sex Trafficking

In this guest post below you will read about the work of a summer intern in Jakarta, Indonesia as part of the Center for Global Justice summer human rights programs.  This rising 2L focuses on how the problem of sex trafficking arises, and you’ll be shocked to see it is all about families. 


Professor Kathleen McKee and I focused on this issue in terms of UN policies in our recent article

Examining the Associations between Sustainable Development Population Policies and Human Trafficking


Reviewing that after you read the post below will enlighten your mind to the pervasiveness of human trafficking.



The Problem (So Far)

Joe and Prof. Patrick Talbot*

The following is a summer intern update from Joe Kohm.  Joe is interning at Universitas Pelita Harapan, a Christian law school in Indonesia that focuses on fighting sex and labor trafficking, protecting believers from persecution, and other Rule of Law issues.


If you’re from somewhere in the West that hasn’t hit summer by the time you reach Indonesia, the first thing you notice when you step off the plane is the humidity. 


It hits you like a brick wall. I’ve spent many hot summer days and nights outside for Army field exercises, but I had never felt humidity like this. That’s because this is my first time in a jungle.


The Background

Downtown Jakarta

Indonesia is a developing country, not a developed one. The country is literally built into the jungle, and the humidity as well as the smell and vegetation is the proof of it. If you don’t believe me, simply watch Bear Grylls’s excursion to the island of Sumatra. That being said, developing countries are just that – works in progress, trying desperately (supposedly) to catch up to what we have achieved for quality of living in the West. I say this so that you don’t think I’m living in a hut, or that asphalt doesn’t exist here, or that I can’t buy fried chicken or a Nike soccer jersey (of which there are many of both here). I say this because the massive gap between the huts and the Nike stuff is impossible not to notice. While driving into downtown Jakarta (the country’s capital, on the island of Java) last week, you can look to the left and see a mass of skyscrapers that resemble Manhattan. But to the right, you can see shacks that look like a seven year old designed and built them, with drainage water literally flowing through them. In the West, you just see the skyscrapers on one side and the projects on the other. With this comparison in mind, it is little wonder why many of the poor in Indonesia would be thankful to live in the projects (not that projects are a good thing, but we’ve come a long way).


Why is this information necessary? Because without it, I would not have understood the root causes (i.e., “The Problem”) of sex trafficking, which is why I came here: to try and make some sort of difference in the fight against this horrible injustice. You’re probably thinking, “Why is the problem so hard to understand? I’ve seen ‘Taken’!” So have I. The difference is that Europeans live like, or very similar to, us. This is why we can watch Liam Neeson kill Eastern European mobsters and rescue his kidnapped daughter. In Europe, kidnapping is an economical way to create capital for the sex industry. Here, as a gangster, there’s no need to exert yourself so much, especially in this heat. The process of creating capital is far easier.


The First Part of the Problem


There are areas of Indonesia that are less developed (i.e., the hut areas), and therefore more na├»ve. Some of these areas have reputations for particularly attractive women. Now, here’s the first part of the problem: pimps come here and buy young girls from their parents.


Yes, you read that right.


Parents sell their kids right into the sex trade. There are multiple reasons parents would do this: some desperately need the money that the girls might make, others are deceived into thinking their daughter is getting a legitimate job, for example. Benjamin Nolot’s superb documentary, “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls” (which you all should watch immediately after reading this), does a better job of illustrating this peculiar phenomenon than I do.

The Second Part of the Problem



Now, we arrive at the second part of the problem: korupsi, as the Indonesians would say. It translates as “corruption.” This classic selfish plague is holding back the developing world (and to some degree, the developed world as well) from becoming truly developed. In Indonesia, there is a very complicated process for obtaining permission to leave your village for work or a passport. Permission must be granted in the form of a letter from your village chief, the immigration office, and a slew of other officials. And that’s just for the worker’s permit. But if you’re part of the Chinese-Indonesian mob, you can expedite this process by literally throwing money at it. Free money is hard to come by anywhere, especially here, where 200 American dollars makes you a millionaire in Rupiah; how could you say no to this “free money” if all that was required of you was a form letter and a stamp? It’s the same reason why it takes two hours to get into Jakarta from the suburb I’m living in: politics (and corruption) prevented a proposal for a light rail system several years ago. Like the light rail system, these girls’ lives are also essentially swept under the rug. From there, prostitution is unofficially “contained” in red light districts across the nation. Though anyone who knows anything about prostitution knows that containment is the result of simple naivety and korupsi. There is little difference between a legal pimp and an illegal pimp. They both sell and ruin lives, including their own, for a living. And all this just relates to domestic prostitution; the korupzi allows young women and girls to be trafficked to Singapore and all over Southeast Asia, where you can literally pick the nationality of your prostitute in most red light districts.


The Hope



I realize that I’ve painted a bleak, depressing picture. However, the same adjectives can be used to describe our lives before Christ found us. I will elaborate more on what I will call “The Answer(s)” in my next entry, but for now I offer this ray of hope. I work for Professor Patrick Talbot, a member of the law faculty at Universitas Pelita Harapan, which roughly means “University of Light and Hope.” UPH (pronounced “ooo-pay-ha”) is part of a vast network of Christian schools created by the Riady family through a foundation (the Yayasan). I know what you’re thinking: “How could such a network of Christian schools exist in the world’s most populace Muslim country?!” It is true that there are over 250 million people crammed onto the string of islands that make up Indonesia, and it is true that Islam is the most popular religion. However, if you look at the Indonesian emblem (pictured), you will see a gold star at the center of the shield. This star represents the country’s recognition of one God (how would that fare on Capitol Hill?). Indonesia therefore recognizes six religions, all of which have mono-theistic views to some significant degree, and each citizen’s religion is part of the information on their identification card. This is why UPH is able to do the great things it does. I still get the news from the United States, and comparing that news to the things that UPH does has showed me that Christians are, in some ways, more free to practice and express their faith here than back home. Shocking for a Western country that used to believe each person’s inalienable rights were “endowed by their Creator.”


The hope I give you is Christ, and the home He has carved out here in this ignored corner of Southeast Asia. Sexual immorality is ultimately a heart problem. He is our only hope for escape from all sin, especially this one. I will elaborate on this more next time.

* Joe is pictured above with Regent Law alum Professor Patrick Talbot ('93), who directs Universitas Pelita Harapan. Also pictured is Professor Talbot's daughter Katie, his wife Kathy, and his daughter Suzie.

See this post and others at http://globaljusticeblog.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-problem-so-far.html.



Law Student Interns to the World for Family Restoration

Regent Law's Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law has sent out more than twenty law student Interns around the globe - and many are working to restore families through work against human trafficking, in the protection of children, and to support of the rule of law generally.  Here they are: http://globaljusticeblog.blogspot.com/2015/05/center-for-global-justice-announces.html

Center for Global Justice Announces Appointed Summer 2015 Interns

Twenty-one students are set to intern this summer across the globe to aid legal organizations and other ministries in France, India, Israel, Canada, South Korea, Uganda, Bulgaria, Indonesia, Romania, Austria, South Africa, and throughout the United States. These students will work on urgent human rights issues, including combating sex trafficking, protecting orphans, advancing the rule of law in developing countries, and promoting religious freedom for the marginalized.

"The Center's Internship Grant Program is our flagship program. Through this program, students' lives are changed every summer as God confirms their callings to be human rights attorneys through tangibly demonstrating to each student the desperate need for top-notch Christian attorneys to advocate for the oppressed," said Ernie Walton, Administrative Director for the Center. "I am particularly excited for this summer because of the quality of the internship placements. Our students are going to receive excellent legal experience and make a huge impact while doing so." Several interns will serve in their native countries. 


Here are the selected law students for summer 2015: 


·                     Michael Aiello will work at Hampton Commonwealth Attorney's Office in Virginia on the Juvenile Team, focusing on prosecuting cases involving child victims.

·                     Andrea Atkinson will work with the National District Attorney's Association in Virginia in their Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse.

·                     Maitte Barrientos will work at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in Texas on immigration and human trafficking issues.

·                     Julianna Battenfield with work with Advocates International in South Africa, focusing on promoting religious freedom for marginalized Christians.

·                     Joshua Charles will work in the Middle East, cultivating and defending the rule of law in the Palestinian territories.

·                     Natasha Delille will work with Regent Law alumnus Evan Henck ('07) at Freedom Firm, an organization in India that rescues sex trafficking victims, prosecutes traffickers, and provides aftercare for those rescued. She will do a second internship with Alliance Defending Freedom's Vienna office, fighting for religious freedom and the protection of unborn children.

·                     Marie Dienhart will work with the Alabama Attorney General's Office in their capital litigation division.

·                     Ryan Dobbs will work with Jerusalem Institute of Justice for part of the summer, focusing on defending the rights of Christians, combating sex trafficking, and other human rights issues. During the second part of the summer he will work withAdvocates International in Canada on defending the religious freedom of Christians.

·                     Pamela Dodge will work with International Justice Mission (IJM) in India on combating human trafficking in Mumbai.

·                     Palmer & Christy Hurst will work at the European Center for Law and Justice in Strasbourg, France; they will focus on various issues, including promoting religious freedom for Christians.

·                     Joseph Kohm III will work with Regent Law alum Pat Talbot ('93), who directsUniversitas Pelita Harapan, a Christian law school in Indonesia that focuses on fighting sex and labor trafficking, protecting believers from persecution, and other Rule of Law issues.

·                     Chelsea Mack will work with Land and Equity Movement, Uganda, a movement which aims to unite the efforts of everyone with a contribution to offer to make land work for the poor.

·                     Courtney Marasigan will work with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, International Crimes Division, in Uganda

·                     Olufemi Odukoya will work with Regent University's Center for Entrepreneurshipto develop an investment fund in Rwanda that will allow micro-finance loans for the poor.

·                     So Heon Park will work with Advocates for Public Interest Law (APIL) in Seoul, South Korea, on behalf of refugees and trafficking victims.

·                     Jessica Rigsbee will work at the European Center for Law and Justice on international religious freedom and other human rights issues in Strasbourg, France.

·                     Kate Sawyer will work with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute in Washington, D.C., promoting sound policy relating to adoption.

·                     Kraig Smikel will be interning in Bulgaria with Advocates International, an international network of Christian attorneys who work on protecting life, promoting religious freedom for the persecuted church, and advancing the rule of law.

·                     Daniel Tirle, a native of Romania, will return to his home country to work at thePeople to People Foundation to assist orphans access basic social services.

We want to offer a special thanks to those who have given to the Internship Grant Program. Through your sacrificial giving, these students receive great legal experience and provide valuable support to these organizations, all without having to take on additional debt.  Several interns are still in need of funding.  If you would like to give to help cover the costs of these life-changing internships, please click here.



Young Couple Dies Shielding Child - While Teen Mom Pushes Baby to His Death

The Texas tornado on Mother's Day took the lives of two parents who gave themselves to shield their child.  "When neighbors found 1-year-old Emily Mooneyhan, she was sitting amid the rubble of her family's destroyed mobile home. Her parents were found nearby, dead. As John Glidewell, chief deputy in the Howard County Sheriff's Office, arrived at the scene on Monday, it was hard to fathom that anyone had survived the chaos, he said.  Four mobile homes, including the one where 28-year old Melissa and 29-year old Michael Monneyhan lived with their daughter, were destroyed after a powerful storm swept through Nashville, Ark., late Sunday night." (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/05/11/1-year-old-girl-survives-arkansas-tornado-that-killed-her-parents/?tid=sm_tw). Parents gave their lives for their daughter's survival and best interests (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1957143) as good parents will always do.

In great contrast to that story is the event of a mother pushing her baby over a bridge to his death ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/05/04/pennsylvania-mother19-accused-of-throwing-baby-into-river/?tid=pm_national_pop_b). Neonaticide is tragic, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2517012, but nearly unblameable under Roe - http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2441274 -  making it instead a sad legacy of child tragedy.

Family restoration is not adult-centered, but child-centered, and saves (rather than takes) lives.


Mother's Day for the Protection of Women and their Children

The Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law at Regent University’s School of Law is focused on, among other things, the protection of children, and ending the scourge of human trafficking.  You can see the law interns sent out by the Center are working this summer to make a difference in that regard.   

And on Mother’s Day it is not irrelevant to remember those mother’s trapped in human trafficking as prostitutes.  What a woman endures in that bondage is a reminder to us all of the violation of the sanctity of motherhood.  See  page 12 for details of what effects motherhood can have on women who become mothers in sexual slavery. 

This Mother’s Day pray for the protection of women and children around the globe toward family restoration.