13 July, 2010

A side of the World Cup we don't celebrate

This is an email I got this week:

"I’ve been writing for a while now about our trip to Africa, teasing out the time we spent there to try and stop the memories from fading, eking out out our learning and hoping to pass on some of the beauty and joy we experienced there.

Whenever I speak to people they always ask about the negatives- were we ok? Were we robbed? I have purposely not mentioned the down sides because we personally did not experience any, but my conscience was pricked yesterday and I need to mentioned something specific:

In Chobe Marina Lodge we met a Policeman and his nurse wife from Pretoria, and they felt the need to get a few things off their chests. We were there a few months prior to the world cup, and one of the things they told us was of a friend who had been shopping in the local mall with her 11 year old daughter.

I was imagining a mall like we have here in Victoria, large and public and popular, and my daughter Rebekah when she was eleven. The two had been shopping for a while, the daughter was getting cranky so the mum asked her to sit on a bench whilst she visited one more shop.

Ten minutes later she returned and her daughter was gone. She immediately raised the alarm and the police went straight into action, though they told there was little chance they’d find the child by now. All the exists were locked and they began a systematic search of the bathrooms where they found the 11 year old drugged, her head shaved, a wig and a bag of clothes ready to dress her.

She had been kidnapped by the prostitution traders.

She was lucky. Readying for the world cup, a feast of prostitution opportunities for delegates and officials as well as tourists and fans, there has been a large drive to kidnap hundreds of children.

Chrissie and I live in this artificial world where this doesn't happen. We are informed that prostitutes prefer to be called sex workers and they choose that work as a well paid and lucrative job. So we have believed.

We were wrong.

Repeating the story to friends back in Australia, our hostess loaned us two books on the subject of international kidnapping for prostitution. She works with the Salvation Army who were preparing a group to go to South Africa to try to make some positive difference.

Obviously we don’t talk about things like this in polite conversation – and I wonder if that’s part of the problem. My silence and ignorance has secretly allowed others to form the impression that its ok to buy sex from a drugged 11 year old.

One of the books is about research into the issue and that’s what really got me fired up – interviews with long time ‘johns’, men who continually ‘use these services’ indicate that they see nothing wrong at all.

One ‘john’ is quoted as saying that he believes he’ll go to heaven, that God would not punish him for simply ‘following his urges.’

He is wrong. Paid sex is wrong. Kidnapping is wrong. Having sex with children is wrong.

I am disgusted with myself and my ‘Christian religions’ that we have allowed people like those quoted to get anywhere near the position where they think God condones such disgusting and immoral acts.

What can we do?

Well, what I can do at least is talk about it, and read a few books, and stop being so ignorant. So I am talking about it here, in this regular ‘article' I write and send out.

What can you do? Talk about it too. Forward this email. We have to start somewhere and maybe its as simple as saying clearly and loudly;

Paid sex is NOT ok.
Sex with children is NOT ok.
Kidnapping and drugging women to make money out of them is NOT ok."

The author of the books he refers to is Victor Malarek who recently took part in a speaking tour in Australia. Below are the links to both his speech and some other events he did:


You may not agree with everything in this email, but it should at least cause us to stop and think about the vulnerability of women, the choices available to vulnerable women, and your role in their freedom and hope. Are you complicit? Are you helpful? Are you ignorant? Are you indifferent? Think for a while, and let your thinking lead you to action.


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