Ruth Jacobs interviews STOP’s web content manager on his heart for the enslaved

Original interview on Ruth Jacob’s blog

Ruth Jacobs interviewed STOP’s web and social media manager, Servaas Hofmeyr, on what drives him to speak out on behalf of the voiceless.

How did you become involved in the movement against human trafficking? 

While busy studying in 2008, I browsed around the web (as one does) and came across an article discussing the effects criminalisation and, alternatively, legalisation of prostitution has had in various countries. I was quite shocked to learn what conditions most of the prostituted women found themselves in – varying from being drug addicts, to suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, to being victims of regular abuse by both their pimps and clients.

Prostitution, of course, is only one channel through which trafficking occurs but as I browsed further I came across a short video clip produced by the A21 Campaign, in which the organisation’s founder, Christine Caine, explained how she first came to the knowledge of this worldwide injustice of slavery. What she was saying in that video touched something inside of me and led me to educate myself further on the issue of trafficking itself and also on various other issues creating a culture in which a demand for slaves exist…

…for the rest of this interview continue reading it on Ruth’s blog

 

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Why I still love men

I came across this post a few days ago after I saw the theprostitutionexperience.com (The Prostitution Experience) website link on twitter. Through this website an Irish lady, who used to be prostituted, ‘finds her voice’ and acts as a voice for countless woman and young girls still trapped in the world of prostitution and slavery. This one particular post reminded me of a picture I found a while back and have recently posted as my facebook profile’s cover photo. It sums it all up so brilliantly – the run down house that seems as if it’s about to be demolished, its days are over, there is no hope for it to continue existing; and then those words: speak the truth, even when your voice shakes.

I was sitting in the passenger seat of my friend’s parked car recently while she ran into the shop to buy a few things. She was gone a good while and I sat there, watching the moving scene through the windscreen.

A man walked by with his little girl, who looked to be about three. She wanted to walk on a slightly raised area of cement beside some steps and a look of distress crossed his features before he steadied her with one hand and held her with the other one more tightly. He kept a firm grip of her as he carefully navigated her along the area of cement, not breaking his concentration for anything, until she was back down (about one foot lower than she had been) on solid ground beside him. Then he was able to relax again and she said something to him that I could not hear. That caused his face to break into the most beaming and adoring smile, as if he’d heard the most profoundly endearing comment ever uttered. The look on his face made my eyes fill with tears.

I’m not talking about the sort of misty barely-there tears we feel when we’ve just witnessed something moving. I’m talking about the sort of stormy tears that threaten to spill down your face immediately if you don’t choke them back; the sort of tears that signal a full-on emotional onslaught. It was so sudden, it shocked me.

I had to get myself together because, as my much as I love and trust the woman I was with that day (who is one of my closest friends) I just didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of her arriving back at the car with her diet coke and tea cakes and finding me a blubbering emotional mess. I think, more so, I didn’t feel comfortable with how I would explain myself, with how I would communicate what was wrong.

What was wrong had nothing to do with a man loving his little girl; what was wrong was what it, by contrast, called up for me, and that was just too big a conversation for that time and place.

Apart from being embarrassing it makes you feel very vulnerable, to have to explain the enormity of the distinction that is so often and so easily called to your mind; this understanding of the gentle pure love males have for the females close to them, their daughters, sisters, mothers, girlfriends and wives, juxtaposed with the contempt so often expressed for the females not close to them – the woman walking alone in public, or unaccompanied in a bar, or most potently of all, the malignant and abundant contempt for the woman in a brothel.

So when I see an example of male love for women and girls, along with uplifting me and moving me emotionally, and making me think how this is the way it should be, it also calls to mind that contrast, and it hurts me. It hurts me dreadfully.

I’ve had the same emotional response many times. Any time I see a man put his arm protectively around his girlfriend, or hand her a tissue for her snotty nose, or kiss the top of her head without giving a shite who’s looking, I feel the same way. I smile, and feel a warm gush of inner contentment. It provokes a feeling of love, this evidence of male love that exists in the world; but it is quickly and violently followed by a hammer in my heart. It is the brutal thud of its opposite – the understanding of male hatred.

Let me be clear about this: prostitution has to do with killing. It has to do with killing the human spirit, and beyond that, it has to do with getting off on it. It is evil, and when we see evil, when we live evil, I believe it is very important to name it. Evil can obscure itself very easily when we do not assign it its true name.

The evil of prostitution has been so thoroughly obscured that it is even taught in universities as a ‘sex positive’ autonomous choice. What a load of bollocks. I could put a gun in my mouth tomorrow and blow my own brains out; that is surely an autonomous choice – it doesn’t mean there’s anything positive about it. But I will leave the lies and the stupidities of ‘sex positive feminism’ to another day and get back to the subject at hand:

I was invited to attend the conference that launched the Turn Off The Red Light campaign in Buswell’s Hotel in Dublin last year. I had just been told that it was a conference, it hadn’t been mentioned that the press would be there, so I got a very big shock when I arrived to the scene of cameras rolling and flashing lights. It was a shock because something in me told me that I was supposed to speak, but how was I supposed to do that with every newspaper and TV station in the country present?

I was a little late and there was only one seat left in the back row. I sat down and felt a bit bad about grabbing the last seat when people, some much older than me, started filling up the standing room all the way out to the hall, but I was wearing ankle boots with a five inch heel so I decided I’d have to live with my own conscience.

The first thing I noticed about the panel was that they were all men. That kind of knocked the stuffing out of me. I was really surprised and listened very intently to hear what they’d say. As they introduced themselves it became clear that they were all men who were high-profile in one sense or another in Irish life; a poet and prose writer (Theo Dorgan), a playwright and theatre director (Peter Sheridan), the chair of the Board of Directors at the Immigrant Council of Ireland (John Cunningham), chairperson of Ruhama (Diarmaid O’Corrbui), CEO of Bernardos (Fergus Finlay), General Secretary of the largest craft union in Ireland, the TEEU (Eamon Devoy) and General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (David Begg).

Something happened which thoroughly moved me. They spoke, one after another, about why prostitution and trafficking should have no place in this country. Men, seven of them, high-profile men at that, talking one after another about what I’ve always thought, what I’ve always known. Probably because some of them were a good bit older than me I was reminded of the protective presence I used to feel when I was with my Dad, who died not long before I went on the game. More tears to struggle with. Another lump in the throat.

When they’d all done speaking the meeting was opened to questions and discussion and around a dozen people spoke. A woman stood near me with a microphone on a long extendable arm that she held up to anyone who’d talk, and when anyone did, the cameras pointed right at them.

The standing area behind me was filled with people, with politicians among them, all the way out and halfway down the hall and I had noticed that when anyone behind me spoke several people in front of me would turn around to look at them.

When the man chairing the meeting asked if there were any more questions before he wrapped the meeting up my heart gave a violent thump, but there was no way I could walk out of there if I didn’t do what needed to be done, which was to provide the voice of prostituted women, which was about the only relevant voice that was missing from the room.

I stood up and said I had something to say but asked the reporters to not photograph me and to point their cameras away. The first thing I said after that was that I was a former prostitute; it was at that point that every head in front of me, about a hundred of them, turned to look. I don’t know how I didn’t keel-over with the sense of vulnerability and exposure, and I was told afterwards that my voice shook audibly when I first spoke.

I went on to say I was glad that prostitution and trafficking were being dealt with together, and that I felt they should continue to be addressed together, as the routes into prostitution and trafficking are only two different routes that bring women to exactly the same place. I then explained that it had been family dysfunction followed by homelessness that had brought me to prostitution at fifteen years of age, and that there was no difference to be found in two groups of women selling their bodies because of sets of circumstances that were beyond their control, just because those circumstances were different. I felt a very great weight of relief when I sat back down, that I’d done what I had to do and that it was over.

Immediately after I sat down one male politician behind me seemed moved, frustrated, and there was angst in his voice when he said “we need to do something about this situation – now!” I was approached by another politician afterwards, and by the chairperson of the conference, who told me that I had made “the most significant contribution to the meeting”. Both were encouraging, both were respectful, and both were men.

After I left Buswell’s I walked to nearby Stephen’s Green and sat on a bench looking at the flowerbeds and popped the Xanax a friend had offered me the night before “for the sake of your nerves”. I was glad I had it, because my nerves were in shreds, although my anxiety was strangely mixed with a feeling of peace that day. I was anxious because of the deeply traumatic part of my past I had just visited so publicly, and I was at peace in another sense because I had been exposed to something I find wonderfully comforting: the gentle and sincere humanity of men.

When you have spent seven years being exposed to the worst of what men have to offer it will leave you dreadfully traumatised, and consequently hurt, embittered and angry. But we are multifaceted beings, thank God, and no one feeling remains constant and ever-present in our minds. A person might reasonably ask: why do you still love men? Because I can still see their humanity shining out of them, and I still draw comfort from it. That’s why.

– FreeIrishWoman

 

Original post: Why I still love men

It’s just porn, right?

There are indivisible links between pornography, prostitution and trafficking.  Most men who wouldn’t dream of sleeping with a prostitute have no problem with being a consumer of pornography.  As soon as it is on the screen, it’s only fantasy right?  It is so far removed from reality that for some reason we can’t connect the dots in our minds as to realise that there are still real people involved on the other side of the screen.   And even if we do realise it, I guess we presume that since it is the women’s “chosen profession” they obviously must be enjoying themselves?

“It is incredible to realise that it has become the norm for young men to grow up watching videos of trafficked women being abused for their amusement. It is legitimised by the silence of the media, education system and religious groups, who rarely denounce it.”

This is a quote from an article written by a young man who found out what happened to women who act in porn videos.  Please download it and read it!

 Porn – watching bruised, drugged prostitutes

Even if we could take the fact that real people’s lives are destroyed in the economy of porn out of the equation, the debate around whether pornography is actually harmful to the consumer, still remains a controversial one.  If you want some insight into this, read the following article written as a response to the first one by a self-professed porn addict. 

I am a prisoner of porn and can’t escape

A short extract:

“Porn has ruined a lot of my feelings for the opposite sex and I feel bad for my girlfriend. I regularly decline her offers for sex and instead wait, sometimes all night, for her to go to bed so that I can find my dream sex fantasy. It isn’t real but the magnetic draw is very real and will pull you away from an actual woman. .

Anyway, I had to write this as I’m hoping it may just prevent someone else from going along the same road that I did back in 1982. I’m still on that road and would love to find an exit but so far the road is between a barrier of beautiful and sexy women who give me continued sexual pleasure. What I can’t seem to do is just slow down and notice that the exit is always there if you look for it.

Porn really will blind you from the true meaning of sex. It was meant to be a gift from God to bond the two persons together so that the two become as one flesh and enjoy not just the sex but all of the other amazing things that a partnership can bring, love, loyalty, a family and other more important things. Porn has to go or else no one will ever stand a chance of a successful and happy relationship.”

**The URL’s for the articles are:

http://www.henrymakow.com/the_porn_industry.html

http://www.henrymakow.com/confessions_of_a_porn_addict.html

Untangled from the Web

Can any of you remember the BI days (Before Internet)?  I sure can’t.  In the information (overload) age that we find ourselves in, it is almost unthinkable to not have any type of information readily available at the click of a mouse.  Unfortunately, out of the cracks and crevices of the internet, unwanted pests can come crawling into our once guarded homes.

Every second over R23000 is being spent on pornography online.

Every second 28258 internet users are viewing pornography.

Every second 372 internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines.

If you want to protect your family from unwanted elements, or if you need to create a “safety net” for yourself, it might be a good idea to install an internet filtering system on your computer, like K9 Web Protection.

Every Man’s Battle

 

One of the greatest challenges that men face today is to keep themselves sexually pure in a culture that is flooded with sexual imagery around every corner and on every billboard.  The temptation that men are faced with is almost more than anyone can bear and it is designed to entrap them and cause death to their souls.

At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice. I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment. He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in.

Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. (She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.)  She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen face she said: “I have fellowship offerings at home; today I fulfilled my vows. So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you!  I have covered my bed with coloured linens from Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.  Come, let’s drink deep of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love! My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon.”

With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.

Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng.  Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.

(Extract from Proverbs 7)

There are various resources available on the market that deal with sexual addictions.  We recommend that you start by reading “Every Man’s Battle”.

Setting the Captives Free

One of the reasons why men struggle so much to break free from sexual addiction is because of the shame associated with it.  What if everyone finds out?  Who can I tell that will not be judgmental or betray my confidence?

“Setting Captives free” provides an online platform where you can sign up for various Christ-centred courses aimed at bringing freedom from habitual sins.  You’ll have the space to express yourself freely and you’ll be assigned to someone who will walk the path with you to keep you accountable on a day-to-day basis.  These courses are free of charge and help people to escape impurity, over-eating, substance abuse, gambling, smoking and more

Have a look at the “Way of Purity” program.  It is a 60 day, interactive program aimed at facilitating freedom from sexual bondage.  You can also sign up for “Door of Hope”, which assists you in finding freedom from homosexuality.