“I brainwashed the women that I trafficked … You make them fall in love with you, and then you start taking them to the strip bars and to the clubs where the pimps and the prostitutes hang out so they get intrigued with the lifestyle.”
This is how a former sex trafficker explained what sex traffickers do to young women to convert them from fun-loving children to sex workers.
In the NGO CSW session of March 14, 2016, “From the Trafficker’s Perspective: What Will It Really Take to End Human Trafficking?” a former trafficker shared his spirit-rending story. After a period of abuse at home “in all dimensions,” he ran away and then suffered from a lack of food and shelter. In this period of vulnerability, at age 14, he was enlisted into the deep, dark world of human trafficking. He spent the next 35 years trading in human souls around the globe - in Colombia, Iceland, Holland, Italy, Canada, and the United States. The reach of traffickers is further and wider than one might think.
Then, came his story of transformation. He ended up in Colombia after spinning the globe to decide on a vacation spot.
“I wanted to have vacation, have fun. I had sex with girls and made them come to Canada on a visa to work … to the strip bars.”
But, then, something strange happened as he was on his way to a strip bar in downtown Bogota.
“I saw a friend and asked him where the strip bars are. I met up with him that afternoon and went downtown in Bogota. I said we’re going to the strip bar … I was going to cut through the church. I went inside the church and I saw people praying. I looked around and saw lots of saints. It was called the Church of San Francisco. I felt something in the church. I started crying. And I felt the Holy Spirit. That happened in 2003. I didn’t go to a strip bar ever again. I told the people I worked with in human trafficking that I’m done with that.”
And he was. He has not turned back.
The moderator, with Pathways to Peace and Operation Big Sister, highlighted the experience of many traffickers, themselves enticed into the lifestyle after experiencing abuse, abandonment, and manipulation. Indeed, the goal is not just to lay blame, but rather to seek out viable solutions for such scourges on society. She said that men need to be included in this conversation. Finally, as the former trafficker’s story conveys, there is hope for change and for real transformation.