This post originally comes from a Fighter’s blog. It has been edited for content and length, and reposted with permission.
“How was Nepal?”
I stare blankly at friends and acquaintances who ask me this question. A battle rages inside my mind as I try to determine how much they really want to know, and how I can possibly describe my experiences in a way that will touch them without dragging on for too long or cross into the borders of over-sharing. More often than not, I simply feel speechless.
“It was amazing,” I manage to say, “amazing, and hard. But so worth it.” I wish I had an easy response for such a seemingly simple question, but it’s really not that simple.
Nepal with HELP International was amazing. It was different, and life-changing, and indescribably beautiful. But as a volunteer working with women and children rescued from human trafficking, I was also a witness to a darker side of the world.
Despite my attempts to stay cheerful and feel okay about being home, I often feel a heaviness in my heart, weighing me down. The girls at Raksha are not home. Many of them have been thrown out of their homes and villages because of the sexual violence they fell victim to. Yet in their culture, no matter how young they are, they are at fault—because they are girls.
This guilt, my sickness that caused me to come home early, and a longing to be back in Nepal fighting for those girls, burns in my soul. One night, scrolling through Facebook, I stumbled across a post from one of my coordinators and her plea to those of us living in a privileged world unlocked the words that have been trapped in my heart.
“I can’t sleep tonight. My mind is swimming, desperately searching for ways to fix things. To fix our world. To fix people.
Today I sat on stained bed sheets in the back of a small brothel disguised as a “massage parlor.” Behind me was a girl several years younger than me laying motionless and awake with her scarf covering her face for a shred of privacy. They told us it was her first day and that she had already seen 3 customers but “she will be okay.” Although they varied in age, their stories were similar-they came uneducated to the city to find work after a husbands death or an abusive relationship and soon discovered that promised jobs weren’t as they seemed. With tears in their eyes they told us that they do what they do to give their kids a better shot at life and for survival, but it broke my heart as it became clear that they felt shame and self hate as they talked about alcoholism and suicide.
As people who weren’t forced to marry at 14, have our first child at 15, who didn’t have our husband die, get kicked out of our in-laws house uneducated, who didn’t live in a culture where you’re outcasted as a widow or a divorcee even if your husband raped and beat you and your children, who didn’t grow up in a society where you can be an “untouchable” who can’t get a job simply because of your last name, we will never be able to empathize with these women. I am sharing what I learned in hopes that you too are angry, and sad and confused. I hope it makes you grateful for your privileges, and most importantly I hope it makes you care and fuels your desire to know more about what goes on outside of our bubbles we live in.”
-Kiana Dabier, Nepal Country Coordinator with HELP International
You see, when I flew away, life in Nepal didn’t stop. When I got sick and longed for answers, I had the freedom to leave. But they didn’t. They are still there. Women and children trapped in a world of caste systems and women without a voice, without a choice.
“In the message parlor / brothel industry in Nepal, no one knows the owners, but he knows everything about his prostitutes. If they leave or try and accuse him he can harm them or anyone close to them. And even if the cops come the prostitutes go to jail, not the customers, and the owner never gets found, because no one knows who they are.
It is complex and discouraging and infuriating the hell that is created on these streets. But we continue on and do what we can to care for these kids, and support organizations fighting for social change.“
-Jesse Breffle, Nepal Country Coordinator with HELP International
Can you see why I find it so hard to answer the question, “How was Nepal?” Because amid the beauty and wonder of Nepal, the stench of injustice rises from the streets. And I long to speak up, to plead with everyone I meet, “Can’t you see what you are doing? Don’t you understand how fortunate you are?”
Yet all too often, I find myself standing alone on the far side of the world, feeling speechless.
And while I stand speechless, the girls I left behind are fighting for a voice. Knowing that, how can I stay silent? Their lives have become real to me. The way I see the world has changed completely. The only pain I have is in the helplessness I feel at wanting to change the world.
But I can’t do it alone.
This entire experience has given me one more reason to stand against pornography, for now, I have seen the reality behind the words, “Porn fuels sex trafficking.” I have looked into the eyes of young girls whose lives were altered forever because of someone’s addiction. Children who were assaulted by teachers, uncles, even brothers. Some people wonder how such horrible things could happen. Some assume that those men were born sick and twisted. But I guarantee that every one of these assaults happened and/or was made worse because of pornography.
I stand here, a single voice in an endless crowd, shouting into the void. To some, it may seem hopeless. “How can one person ever make a difference? This fight is too big. There’s too much to be done.” But I have seen it. I’ve seen the power that seemingly simple actions can have – both for good and for bad – when many “small” people stand together. It takes work and courage; willingness to stand out in a crowd. But as time goes on I believe we’ll find that any discomfort that comes from our efforts will be a thousand times better than the alternative: standing speechless.
Read more at Lacie Anne’s blog by clicking here.
Why This Matters
According to anti-trafficking nonprofit, Rescue:Freedom, in 9 countries, 49% of trafficking survivors said that pornography was made of them while they were in prostitution, and 47% said they had been harmed by men who had either forced or tried to force their victims to do things the men had seen in porn.
The reality is that prostitution, sex trafficking, and porn are more closely linked than society would believe. The truth is that sex trafficking is a global issue, and it is only made worse by pornography. Any form of sexual exploitation only fuels the demand for the sex trade as a whole. This is why we speak out and raise awareness that porn and sex trafficking are connected. Join with us and raise awareness on the societal harms of porn.
What YOU Can Do
Sex trafficking is a local issue, as well as an international one. SHARE this article and get the word on porn’s connection to sexual exploitation.
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