50 Shades From a Different Perspective

3:45 PM

    I'm sitting in a small Songthaew in Thailand. It's really just a flatbed truck with benches on either side to allow for as many passengers to squish together as possible. Across from me sit two older American men. Each has their arm around a Thai prostitute. One of the men looks to be about seventy, the other only slightly younger. One man with his arm still around "his" girl starts groping the legs of the girl next to him while laughing at her obvious discomfort. The other prostitute seems not to notice. I watch her look out the truck breathing in the fresh air, seemingly counting the minutes till her time with this disgusting "customer" was over. Looking over at the girl being groped by the men on either side of her, I see her face. She can't be more than fourteen or fifteen. She must be new to the business as she wears an entire ensemble dedicated to "Hello Kitty" and not the usually seductive attire of the women of the night. She looks ashamed, perhaps afraid. These older men should be her natural protectors, not abusers, paying for the use of her body. And what would happen after? Would she even make it home from the hotel room? 

     I've never felt so helpless in that moment. Everything in me wanted to cry out, to stop the truck, to scream at these old men from my country who dared to take advantage of a girl who was surely in some kind of trouble. I wanted to save her, to drag her off of that truck and into some kind of safe home. Instead I was powerless against this evil so blatantly before me. The rage that filled my mind only heightened when various men tried to flirt with the girls with me on the street. At one point my team had to physically hold me back from attacking a man who was casing them as if they too were selling themselves. Time and again people have told me I have to have pity on the "Johns" seeking out these women. I'm afraid I never did get a heart for those guys. I was so overwhelmed by the atrocities being committed before my very eyes. 

     We've all heard a lot about the book (now a film) "50 Shades of Grey." People find themselves fascinated or repulsed in turn by the story of a man seducing a young woman and luring her into the depths of sexual depravity. Some people have even begun saying, how is this any worse than anything else we are seeing on television or the movies these days? I'd like to address that and the thought process behind it. While in the Red Light District of Thailand, which is reported to be the hub of sex trafficking the world over, I saw things I will never be able to describe. I would never wish for any other human to imagine the horrors that exist there. However, what I will describe to you is the hopelessness that comes from a culture that promotes abuse. 

     Day after day, the girls on my team and I would walk down Soi 6 (I wrote a little bit about it here "Traversing Soi 6" ). One night we even spent the night praying in one of the upper rooms of the buildings. If the city was terrible in the day, it was absolute hell and madness at night. Music boomed over the screams of people literally being dragged down alleys and abused. Those horrors, those sounds, will never leave me. But what stirs me still is the women that we worked with every day. Sometime around eleven o'clock, they would come to the Tamar Center. We girls would help them with their English pronunciation and would just sit next to them and get to know them. They showed us pictures of their families and soon we were involved in their lives. After every class, we would line up to give them a hug as they left. At first I was nervous. I remember asking God in my head what He thought of it. These women were touched all day long, surely they needed a break. I felt Him whisper to me "Show them what right touch is. Hug them as I would. Be my arms, Rachel. Show them my heart." The first girl I hugged, held me and wouldn't let me go. She started sobbing. She knew it was time to go back to work. As she backed away, still holding on to me, we held each other's gaze. I felt her eyes begging me not to make her go back. I felt my heart begging her not to go, to stay and find help to start a new life. 

    Walking down those streets, I felt God's heart for justice, His hatred of abuse. These women were being taken advantage of left and right. They hated themselves for it. Strangely, they were some of the most loving and kind people I've ever known. The men who visited these places would come and indulge themselves in every sort of pleasure and then would leave and go back home to their families in comfortable America and Europe. The women were left devastated and ruined with little more than $30 a night to compensate themselves by. You may say that Thailand is different and that this movie is different because it is about a relationship and not trafficking. Is an abusive relationship really so different than this? At least these Thai women were getting paid for the wretched things that were being done to their bodies. In this film a woman willingly submits herself to unthinkable tortures to try to win a man's love. In both situations her worth is stolen, and her body is used instead of cherished. We may not yet live in a country that encourages and even forces women into such a lifestyle, but we are well on our way. It is said, if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for everything. Stand up Christians. Stand up women. Fight against this film, this book, and this kind of thinking with all of your might. Stand up for women who might find this type of seduction romantic. Stand up for those who don't know what real love is and that real love doesn't hurt the other person for personal gain. Stand up against a culture of abuse before it's too late. 


Ways to help: 
Sign this boycott-  Say no to porn, Boycott 50 Shades of Grey
Help support the work of the Tamar Center in Thailand! They have awesome hand made cards made by women escaping sex trafficking! Tamar Center Products

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