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Monthly Archives: July 2014

From One Boomer to Another

Image Found via Creative Commons

OK, so I’m old! I said it. I won’t say how old, but, I’m old. I’m old enough to remember the 60’s. I’m old enough to be retired. I’m a Baby Boomer.

Baby Boomers are people born between 1946 and 1964. We make up about a quarter of the US population. Like me, there are a lot of us Baby Boomers dropping out of the work force and dropping into the “serving” industry because, even though we are old, we want to continue to make a difference with our lives.

As Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about things that matter.” I don’t want to go silently into the night. I want our generation to rekindle the passion of the 60’s. Dr. King also said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” I’ve devoted my time and energy to solving a massive problem. That problem is Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.

Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking is the commercial sexual exploitation of American children within U.S. borders. It is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a minor for the purpose of a commercial sex act, where the person is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident under the age of 18 years.

Will you join me in becoming engaged in the battle to end trafficking?

When asked why Baltimore is such a favorite target for sex trafficking, a rescued child victim responded that it is because no one cares. We often hear that prostitution is a victimless crime, that it is the oldest profession, that by legalizing it, the “bad effects” (disease and drugs) will be controlled. But I maintain its victims are not only those directly involved, but society as a whole.

Social ills are not isolated events. More frequently than not, social ills occur when poverty and desperation are side by side with wealth and disposable income. As Martin Luther King said, ”Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” We are all affected by this “victimless crime.”

If you are a Boomer with time to give, we need you to join our mission to end Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking. At Araminta we will equip you and mobilize you to make a difference.

Sincerely,

Steve Martin – a Certified Araminta Volunteer

Moving Water

Picture found via Creative Commons

“Don’t drink that!” my scout leader yelled at me from across the path. I was ten. It was hot. We’d been hiking all day, and the one thing I wanted more than anything else in the world was a drink of water. So when I came across the small puddle in the dirt I thought I’d seize the opportunity and take a drink. Thankfully my scout leader knew something I did not – stagnant water can make you sick. It’s not healthy.

According to the National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, between 100,000 and 300,000 kids are at risk for being trafficked every year in the United States. Imagine M&T Bank Stadium, where the Baltimore Ravens play. That massive complex holds 71,800 people. Now imagine three Ravens Stadiums packed to the brim with kids under the age of 18 and you begin to get an idea of the number of children that are at risk every year of being sold for sex.

When confronted with a problem as large as Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, it is tempting to grieve but then push it aside in our minds. The size of the issue overwhelms us. We feel debilitated by its scope. But we cannot give in to the temptation to be still.

Rather, we must act. We must be on the move. We must join the prophet Amos’ and cry, “Let justice roll on like a river, and righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24)

Water on the move is a powerful force. When focused like a fire hose, it puts out fires, it knocks down walls, and it digs valleys out of rock. Given time, there is nothing that can resist its pressure. As long as it continues to move, there is nothing that can stand in its way.

Part of our work at Araminta is to engage and empower local churches to help bring an end to Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking. We agree with what Bill Hybels wrote in his book Courageous Leadership:

“There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken… Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness.”

If you are a member or a pastor of a local church in the Baltimore area, we want to work with you. We’d love to awaken you to the problem of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, equip you to join our mission to end it, and then mobilize you to action. We’d want to get you moving because we believe that once you have been mobilized, nothing will stand in your way.

What is Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking?

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Sarah was a sixteen-year-old girl. Her family life was nothing to brag about. She hated school because she felt like she didn’t fit in, but Sarah had dreams. She loved to sing. She hoped to one day become the next Beyoncé or Katie Perry. She dreamt of being discovered by a producer who would sign her to a record deal. Fueled by her dream, Sarah began posting videos of herself singing on YouTube. Then one day, it happened.  A producer contacted her over Twitter. He said he loved her voice. He said he thought her songs were amazing. He said she was beautiful. No one had ever told her she was beautiful. The producer offered to take her on tour. He promised he was going to make her a star. Full of excitement and hope, Sarah ran away and met up with the man. It was only after Sarah had left the security of her friends and community that she discovered the man’s real intention is to sell her? into the commercial sex industry during every stop on the tour.

It’s hard to believe, but Sarah’s story is very much a reality for many American children and teens. It’s the story of how human trafficking affects our U.S. kids. Every day children and teens in and around Baltimore are sold for sex.  This horrific reality is called Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and is the most common form of human trafficking here in the U.S. Unlike movies and television often lead us to believe, these children are not international. This crime is not just happening overseas. A recent national study showed that between 100,000 and 300,000 children are at risk of being trafficked every year within the United States. At any given moment, the FBI says there are 700,000 predators searching the internet, looking for children to exploit.

Angela entered foster care when she was ten. Although the people around her did the best they could to help her, she could never settle. She was always in trouble. She routinely rebelled. She ran away a lot and bounced from group home to group home. Then one day Angela met a man who said he cared about her. He bought her a cell phone and new shoes – things she’d always wanted but could never afford. He told her he loved her and he wanted to take care of her. He invited her to leave the group home and come and live with him. His only requirement was that she sell her body every night for sex and give him the cash. 

According to the U.S. State Department, human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the United States, surpassed only by the drug trade. The form that this modern day slave trade takes doesn’t always fit the narrative in our minds. Traffickers, or “Pimps” come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are smooth talkers who engage youth romantically. Sometimes they offer youth security and housing in exchange for sexual favors. Sometimes traffickers are family members. What they all have in common is that they are willing to sell a child for their own profit.

The Araminta Freedom Initiative is dedicated to seeing Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking stopped in Baltimore and the surrounding regions. We believe that the solution to this horrible injustice is the Church. Our goal is to awaken, equip, and mobilize the Church and our community to stop this atrocity.

The dream of Araminta was birthed in the fall of 2010 when eight friends began to pray about how they might bring a stop to Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking. After a season of discernment and prayer, in the spring of 2012, Araminta was born.

Our name was inspired by the great abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Araminta was Harriet Tubman’s given name as a child slave in Maryland. It means “defender”.  In honor of Harriet’s legacy of returning time and again to Maryland to free slaves, we believe it is our duty to defend the freedom of children. We must continue to return to the dark places where they are held captive.

We would be honored if you would join us in our mission to see Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking stopped in our region. There are three ways you can start participating today:

First, you can educate yourself about the problem. Understanding the truth behind Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking is the first step to helping end it. If you can learn what it looks like and dispel cultural myths that surround it, then you will be able to recognize it when it happens around you; and if you can recognize it, you can report it.

To learn more about Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and how to report it, go to the Araminta website and check out our resources page. If you don’t know where to start, we recommend the book “Girls Like Us” by Rachel Lloyd. (www.aramintafreedom.org)

Second, you can join us at one of our large community events.  For example, on Saturday, August 2nd, we are hosting our annual “Freedom Night at the Orioles.” Tickets to the game and Araminta t-shirts can be purchased from our website starting June 22nd. Events like this one are a great way for you to help us raise awareness.

Third, you can help fuel our work through giving financially. Araminta accepts donations through our website. We would be honored if you would consider becoming a monthly donor.

Finally, you can join the Araminta team as a volunteer. Araminta is striving to end DMST by providing four avenues for churches to engage in:

1) The prevention of the sexual exploitation of minors,

2) The creation of systemic economic deterrence that will frustrate the business of human trafficking,

3) Intervention and rescue of those held against their will

4) And the provision of aftercare initiatives that offer healing and wholeness to victims.

Currently, Araminta has eight volunteer teams working in all of these areas and we will be launching another three teams this fall. The first step to joining an Araminta volunteer team is completing our volunteer training. We offer the training once a quarter. Our next training session will be in October.

We would love for you to join our mission to stop Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking in our area. Let’s work together to make sure stories like Sarah’s and Angela’s are never repeated.