We have Maria here this weekend who works with prostitutes in Barcelona, we are trying to find a more joined up approach to how we work with prostitutes.
The girls that we work with are for want of a better word "seasonal workers" they are based for the majority of their time on the mainland. Maria works with these girls on the mainland so we are hoping for more insight and maybe a little strategy to develop.
How does slavery happen?
I can tell you this story because we have heard it first hand.
Girl in village or town in Africa gets offered job overseas, she has probably fallen on hard times and the person who offers the work is probably not a close friend but someone she loosely knows. There is a promise of work looking after children or other domestic work and it generally involves being located in mainland europe. The girl may have children of her own and desperately wants to provide for them.
She is then transported illegally to europe, upon arrival she is told that there is not the work she expected, but that she owes a large sum of money for the costs of getting her here. The average figure is somewhere between 45,000 - 65,000 euros. She is told that she cannot go until the debt is paid. A number of issues then come into play and they are all based on fear.
1. She is in the country illegally.
2. Her family is used as leverage, threat of harm if she runs away without payment.
3. Some have sworn a witch doctor oath (juju); if they don't pay the debt they or their family will be cursed and die.
4. She is placed with girls whose debt is nearly paid off; if she flees they will be responsible for her debt.
At a ground level, the girls are usually controlled by a madam, not a pimp.
On the back of all this deception and fear she is forced into prostitution, she has little option but to accept her lot and so she gets on with it. When you walk the streets and look into this girls' eyes, if you stop long enough, if you look closely you will see that there is a deep sadness a desperate longing for a different life, this is not what she expected and not what she wants, she is trapped, enslaved.
She is resigned to slavery.
What happens to these girls is sad, despicable and wrong it needs to change.
The church must not remain silent on this issue. But neither must the church become a place where lots of people talk and pray about this issue without ever actually getting involved in working towards its abolition.
"And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God". Micah 6
Pray for us this weekend as we chat and pray about the best way forward with this whole area.