Originally published on the Salvation Army Warcry Magazine:
The room was electric as 600 advocates from 18 countries gathered to strengthen each other and share resources in the fight against sexual exploitation. Speakers at the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Global Summit general sessions, held April 4-7, in Washington, DC, shined their light into some of the world’s darkest places. Dawn Hawkins, senior vice president and executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), brought together hundreds of people, from subject matter experts to upset moms and dads, committed to a world without sexual exploitation.
For those unfamiliar with the term “sexual exploitation,” this includes, but is not limited to, child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and pornography. NCOSE’s mission is to defend human dignity and oppose all forms of sexual exploitation.
While it is easy to admit that sexual exploitation is horrific, it’s not as easy to admit that it’s something our children are being exposed to. During the summit, Angela, mother to Jane Doe #3, told her story: an average suburban mom whose daughter was exploited and sold online. This isn’t something that is happening to “other people”—this is something happening to our friends, neighbors, children, and loved ones.
Shamere McKenzie, anti-trafficking program director for The Salvation Army of Central Maryland, shared her story in a panel titled, “Life After Trauma.” As a survivor of sex trafficking, McKenzie has a powerful history that she uses to train others to identify and respond to human trafficking.
Most likely your children have already been exposed to pornography in some form. Pornography isn’t harmless: it represents the abuse and humiliation of real women, as Melissa Farley, executive director, Prostitution Research & Education, pointed out during the summit.
It is our responsibility as Christians to be outraged by the sexual exploitation going on in America and throughout the world. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to talk about, and sometimes it’s uncomfortable to acknowledge, but as Valiant Richey, a King County senior deputy prosecuting attorney responsible for prosecuting cases involving sex traffickers said, “Discomfort is ignorance leaving your body.”
For information on how you can get involved in the movement to defend human dignity, visit endsexualexploitation.org.