Yesterday I sat across the table from a couple who spent eleven years in the greater Bangkok area. Over slices of pepperoni and tomato pizza, we traded names, as I volunteered and vacationed there a number of years ago.
The conversation that followed is not the one typically found on a Sunday afternoon at the neighborhood pizza joint: women, sex trafficking, the sex and tourism industry in Thailand as a whole.
But through our words, I was reminded of how that trip changed me.
I remembered how I’d never been that close to the evils of poverty and desperation, sex and desire. I couldn’t fathom why a woman would choose to enter and stay in the sex industry on her own volition, just as I couldn’t understand why a family would sell their daughter for the chance at a better life. The white, educated, middle-to-upper-class part of me wanted to explain to these women that they had a choice in the matter, that there was more to life than selling their bodies.
But this explanation wasn’t mine to give, for I wasn’t in the day-to-day trenches with them.
I was a visitor, an observer, one who takes notice, is changed and leaves. My job then, just as it is now, is to be obedient to telling the stories – even if I don’t always feel qualified. Someday, I’d love to go on a trip like that again, perhaps through Help One Now, World Vision or 1Mt. But for now, I’ll speak through the platform I do have, and I’ll tell you what I do know.
And this is what I know…
I know that when I saw what I saw it made me want to fight for equal rights of all. It made me want to pummel my fists toward those who believe that women are nothing more than an object for purchase, a body on display. In fact, I’d be honored if you call me a feminist, if you label me an advocate for the social, political, legal and economic rights of women.
I know that when I saw what I saw it made me all the more appalled to learn of violence against women, both in the home and in situations of war. I want and I dream and I envision a world free of such horrors, “…where women are free from the fear of violence, oppression and poverty caused by war.”
And I know that I’m heartbroken by the millions of women enslaved around the world, especially in the sex and drug trafficking industries. I don’t always know what to do and how to react, besides to continue to learn and be educated and get close enough to hear and tell the stories again and again.
But there’s more. There’s a way you and I can enter the ring and fight: we can add our thumbprints.
One Million Thumbprints is an organization comprised of thousands of peacemakers, men and women who are fighting the most difficult problems we face in the world today: violence against women caught in conflict. Each time a milestone of thumbprints is collected – 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and more – they will share with the UN Secretary General, members of the UN Women Executive Board and other policy makers.
And when we add our mark – your thumbprint and mine – we will advocate for tangible change by the international community.
So, what’s stopping you?
What’s stopping us?
Let’s join in the fight. Let’s begin to fight for change.
Please, if you do nothing else today, check out One Million Thumbprints and see what they’re all about. Look at their upcoming peace climb and donate to the cause. Otherwise, is there an experience that changed you? And how do you fight against problems that feel bigger than you can handle?