On Saturday morning I opened the newspaper and began to read the local stories…immigration, crime, the economy. As I flipped through the paper, it fell open onto a story about the recent arrest of 7 people accused of trafficking underage girls for sex. Five of them are women, and two of them are men. All of them are young, not much older than their victims.
This is the face of human trafficking in El Salvador. These are real traffickers who were selling girls in malls around San Salvador, and on their Facebook pages. A news website reported that one of the men had an album titled “My New Girls” advertising young virgins for sale. The article also reported the disgusting fact that the victims were forced to fake their virginity over and over again so that they could be sold for the higher “pure” price.
Who is buying young girls in El Salvador? Businessmen, radio announcers, and television personalities. As of now, these clients remain faceless and nameless.
The fact that these traffickers are off the streets is a victory, and El Salvador is committed to combatting human trafficking. The fact that these girls fell victim, and the fact that many more are falling victim each day is a great tragedy. Poverty is on the rise in El Salvador, and poverty is the number one risk factor driving young girls in El Salvador into forced prostitution. They are deceived, their families are deceived, and their lives are destroyed.
Sadly sexual abuse is common and culturally acceptable. Many people are missing the point that these girls are victims. Online many people were commenting about this story, and most were saying that no crime was committed and these girls clearly chose prostitution.
The whole thing makes me sick, and when I see the faces of these traffickers I struggle to understand what could make someone decide to make a business of destroying the dignity, life, and hope of another human being. I am reminded of why we work to offer restoration to these women because while evil seeks to destroy, God seeks to restore.
Is restoration possible after the horrors that these girls have suffered? I wish I could say with certainty it is, but I don’t know if that can be true this side of heaven. But I do know with certainty that God cares about what has happened to these girls, and so we ask Him for strength to do our part to work for change in El Salvador and to fight for restoration for victims.
Will you take a moment to pray with me for these young victims in El Salvador, and hard as it is, to pray for these traffickers and these clients too?