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Friday, 13 July 2012

The Women In The Window



Before I start this post I want to make one thing very clear.  I am against the abuse of women, children, men and animals.  (You might think this doesn't need to be said but it does unfortunately.)  All use of another person, whether through prostitution, pornography, etc., for ones own gratification is a sort of abuse.  It doesn't matter to me if money has changed hands.  It doesn't matter to me if its legal.  It doesn't matter to me if people argue that these women, men, children want to do this, that it's their choice.  What matters to me is the worth and dignity of human life.

When I write this, I am not judging these women who stand in windows or on street corners or elsewhere.  I do however struggle with anger toward the men who use them.  Also toward the people and tourists who stroll around these streets and designated districts, pointing and exclaiming at what they see as though it were some sort of festival.  Human misery on display.  Break open the popcorn and let's be shocked and amused from a safe distance and then travel home again and share our little adventure.  Get a bit of thrill and then go back to the safety of the hotel.

Contrary to what we'd all like to believe, many prostitutes that work legally are not there by choice.  To think this is the ultimate naivety.  Human trafficking is alive and well and many reporters believe that there are more victims of this today than ever before in history.  I naturally can't claim to know what happens in each individual case but generally, a woman or child is taken, left alone for awhile in a little room somewhere.  Then raped and beaten repeatedly and violently for days and made dependent on drugs and after that, they are put out to practice.  In the case of children, most who are forced into prostitution die very young because their bodies simply can't handle such treatment.  Unless I just have a terrible sense of humor, there is nothing funny about it.  I've thought and thought and can't even think of one thing that makes me smile about this situation.  Nothing that would make gawking from the sidelines okay.  

If you have a daughter, would it be fine with you if she was treated this way?  And to add insult to injury, if people found nothing wrong with her abuse and enjoyed walking by, making crude comments about her, pointing at her as though she were an animal in a cage? 

 I remember walking in broad daylight through Amsterdam's red light district with my mom and my sister on one of our first days there.  Typically for us, we had gotten lost.  None of us wanted to go there but we ended up there just the same.  We had been walking from a distant area of the city, talking, laughing, being silly.  Suddenly the mood seemed to shift.  It wasn't actually physically darker out but it felt that way.  There was a heavy and oppressive feeling in the air that made our laughter seem out of place as indeed it was.  I remember looking around and seeing women posing in the windows.  Most were staring boldly (it looked like a defensive stance to me as if daring someone to say something) out into the street but not actually at anybody.

But as I walked by one window, a younger girl (I would guess 16 or 17 years old) stood there in a light purple bra and panties and she looked straight into my eyes.  Straight into them.  I remember it so clearly that even today I am bothered when I think about her.  Then she looked down at the ground and the fingers of one hand were kind of fidgeting nervously with her bra strap.  She stood there.  Head down.  Shoulders slumped.  And I stood there and looked at her.  When she raised her head again, she had tears on her cheeks.
 
I don't doubt that someone somewhere loved and missed this girl.


30 comments:

jane.healy said...

Prostitution is often referred to as the oldest profession in history. I have lived in cities where there are dedicated red light districts, I have been in bars were prostitutes operate and always been saddened by them. I will always remember walking down the street behind two young women who were discussing a dresses they wanted to buy for a party ... how many customers they needed to be able to afford them. By comparison I have led a very privileged, sheltered life and cannot begin to imagine what life is like for them.

Colleen said...

I feel the same Jane. I mostly have trouble withholding my judgement from the people who take advantage or use\ abuse these people. Or as I said the people who just find it all so entertaining.

Thanks for commenting!

melissa said...

This is so sad Colleen. I wouldn't even have the courage to look at this lady's eyes...

My ideals have never left me...but it has exhausted me a bit. In my country, we struggled with the parents who sold their children to prostitution and drugs. It is indeed very appalling. And it has gone largely to internet too.

I also read a bit in Reader's Digest about Cambodian children sold to sex slavery to foreigners.

I have always fought for children and women's rights. And if there are people who should protect their children, the very first ones should be their parents.

I feel very sorry for them. We should be for one another a brother's/sister's keeper...

JANU said...

This is sad...also, what you said about tourist making speculation of a scene they come across is very true.
Nice post.

Alicia said...

With all due respect.. This. Your voice. Is powerfully ringing the bell of abolition. I will one day travel to the other side of the world solely to listen to the silenced, the unloved. To hopefully gather their words, lay hands of compassion in the work of their lives. Their rights are gone. The high demands of human trafficking right now state that something high such as 27 million children, women & men are in slavery right now.. Where almost 80 percent have been stolen or sold by family members. Again your voice spoke directly to my heart, Colleen. Thank you.

Brian Miller said...

ugh....what a jacked up world we live in at times....we work with a group that goes into the bars in thailand and buys out prostitutes for the night to take them to a shelter so they can learn a trade in hopes of breaking free...

Rachna said...

Colleen, I have been to Amsterdam and been to the red-light district as a tourist. I remember feeling a huge reservation while doing so. It aggrieves me too that someone would have to sell their bodies and soul to earn money. Like you pointed it, it is never by choice. I feel sad very sad.

Colleen said...

Rachna thank you for your thoughtful and compassionate comment. I feel I should have mentioned that there are many people who walk through such an area with "reservation" as you put it and who are upset and saddened by what they see there. Thanks very much for your perspective.

To any further commenters on this post, I will be away this next week so please feel free to comment and I'll reply when I return. Wishing you all a wonderful week!

Dangerous Linda said...

Dear Colleen,

I hear you. My hearts aches.

XOXOXO

Corinne Rodrigues said...

Colleen this makes me very sad too and I used to work with young boys (street children) who are used in this way too. You're so right about it being evil. Trying to get them out, even with the use of police force against the pimps, was tough only because these youngsters have lost hope and many a time don't want to fight their way out.

mary333 said...

This breaks my heart, Colleen. And it infuriates me at the same time. I have great trouble withholding my judgment from people who use others in such a brutal fashion too. Years ago, I lost a friend to suicide and I blame the people who used her child's body as a toy never seeing the beautiful soul they were bringing such immense harm to. I'm starting to cry just thinking about it. She was abused sexually in seven of the foster homes she was in after being removed from her father's home for the same reason. I hate it. It has taken me years to come to grips with her suicide (she cut her own throat)and your story reminds me of Diane - http://heavenlyhand.blogspot.com/2009/09/shadow-girl-may-you-rest-in-peace.html

Thanks for writing this post, Colleen. The people of this world need to "wake up" and posts like these are needed. Like you, I don't think most prostitutes choose this life.

JJ said...

I would hope that most men on this planet agree with you. I am equally saddened by the numbers of men willing to abuse these women and children. I do not withhold my condemnation of the abusers.

Just Be Real said...

Hey Colleen.....hugs to you dear one. Thank you for your encouraging words to me. Blessings.

Colleen said...

Linda, thank you.

Corinne, thank you for sharing that. I can't imagine the heartbreak and misery you must have seen and experienced. Evil is an appropriate word in this case.

Mary, I am so sorry about the abuse and suicide of your beautiful friend. It angers me too. The selfishness that causes a person to use another until they are so broken they can't bear to live anymore. Sickening. Thanks for the link to the other post, I'll go and check it out. God bless you and I will pray for the soul of your precious friend.

JJ, I appreciate your strong words. Thanks for showing that there are good men out there as well.

JBR, hope you are well and taking care of yourself Sweetie.

Pamela said...

Such heartache. Thank you for reminding us of the reality of "someone's daughter."

Felisol said...

Dear Colleen,
Thank you for caring and sharing.
It has been said over and over again, the greatest threat against humanity is not violence, but indifference.
We live in a safe world far away from trafficking and forced prostitution,--we like to think.
In our small towns suffering is not that visible.
We know it is here too, children are being molested, women beaten, even murdered and all these refugees with their scared eyes.
They live right around us.
I am not a brave woman, I admit that. I have friends working voluntary in woman's refugees.
I'm proud to know them.
Oh, that I must not be found lukewarm.
What you did not do for these, my smallest, you did not do for me, Christ said.
I cannot save the world, but I can do something for some.

Zuzana said...

Dear Coleen, beautiful post that touches upon the decay in our society. I guess it will always exist and I too feel sorry for those very young ones that end up being used and abused. I wonder where the parents are, or if there are any, or if they themselves have been leading this kind of life...

Thank your for your very kind comment today and such substantial words, I guess my mind is struggling with the heavier questions and it will until I find my own answers.
Yes, our summer has been terrible, awfully cold and rainy, resembling November. I have just returned from a short vacation in Sweden, it was sunny but we dressed in jackets and boots the whole time. We are suppose to get a few warm days midweek, but they will be again fleeting.;)
Have a great week
xoxo

Cathy said...

I agree. The problem is not the prostitutes. The problem is the demand. There wouldn't be any without demand. Once we start addressing why that is, maybe society might make some progress in the matter.

myinnerchick.com said...

*** And I stood there and looked at her. When she raised her head again, she had tears on her cheeks. **

Ohhh, My Heart. This was quite Powerful & Heartbreaking...

The Bonny Bard said...

What a powerful post. I don't think people really think about the issue, prostitution is "accepted" or "ignored". And a lot of the people who frequent prostitutes do so without considering them "real people".
A blogging friend of mine works and lives in Thailand with a group that helps victims of child slavery to reintegrate in society. She wrote a powerful series of posts on her work awhile back, this is her blog if you're interested: http://jadekeller.com/

Christine said...

Your description of your encounter with the girl in Amsterdam went straight to my heart. I can't quite imagine going there as a "tourist" and admiring the spectacle of it all. There's so much that makes my heart heavy about this and human trafficking and the fact that so often people turn away from it rather than acknowledge and confront it. I'm not sure if I would have had the courage to look the girl in the eye but thank you for speaking up about this.

Colleen said...

Pamela, thank you for your comment.

Felisol, you r comment speaks right to my heart. You are so right, I always think to be indifferent is worse than to actually do the harm! It is indifference that allows evil free reign to continue. I don't want to be found lukewarm in moral matters either.

I'm glad you stopped by Mrs. Pancakes, thanks for your comment!

Zuzana, I think you put it well when you describe it as "decay in society". It is that. Yes, I hope we have some sunshine too soon!:)

Cathy, thanks for commenting! You're entirely right of course but the sad thing is society already thinks it is "progressive" by being so tolerant of such abuse.

Myinnerchick, it broke my heart too. Still does. Thanks for stopping by!

Ms. Kathleen said...

It is amazing to me that this sort of atrocity goes on in the world today and is also the worlds fastest growing industry. Bless you for opening people's eyes to the truth....

http://theemptynestexpress.com

Crown of Beauty said...

Hi Colleen,
I echo your introduction to this post.

Your story about that young woman in the Amsterdam red light district brought a sharp pain to my heart. I wish someone could have come up to her to speak a word of comfort. And the live animals... do you mean real animals, or were they referring to the women? Either way, it's terrible...

Thank you for having the courage to write this post.

Blessings
Lidia

Colleen said...

Bonny Bard, thanks for including that link. I will be sure to check it out. And yes, your point about people not really seeing prostitutes as "real people" it true. In fact, it strikes at the very heart of the matter and why it is so dangerous to be indifferent. In cases of abuse, the perpetrator invariably ignores that the victim is indeed a real person. The same can be said of pornography as well. Thanks for your comment.

Christine, thank you for your caring comment.

Ms. Kathleen, thanks for commenting! I too am amazed at the speed at which this brutal industry is growing. And sad at how easily accepted it is.

Dear Lidia, thank you as always for your thoughtful comment. I understand what you mean and wish too that there would have been a way to speak to her...now I just try to remember to pray for her and all of the other women and children who are so brutally violated every day while the world stands by and gives its blessing.

Shell said...

This gave me the chills. I can't imagine if someone I knew had to do this sort of "job." So heartbreaking.

rama said...

You are so right, nobody would want to lead this kind of life for anything in the world. i really feel for all of them. There was a beautiful picture in Tamil, about how a young girl was pushed into this profession by a pimp, and how she struggled through all this till finally found and rescued by her father.
They are all caught in this web, from which they cannot easily come out even if they wanted to.
"Abandon all hope, ye who enter here..."

BelovedBomber said...

Wow...I love to find someone who feels so strongly...I completely agree with you. I recently traveled to North Carolina from Ohio for a women's conference. I was so angry at all of the signs for Gentlemen's Clubs on the road. I told my husband I want to rent the signboards beside them and post "She is somebody's daughter...and definitely God's daughter" I live in a county that has the largest "massage parlors" per capita in the whole US. It infuriates me!! Thanks for sharing your heart!

Betty said...

Powerful post. We need to continue to speak out against the dreadful sin of human trafficing. Bless you for doing so, bless you.

Kandice said...

I lived overseas growing up and we visited Amsterdam. I remember the red light district vividly and I wasn't even 13. I know we must have accidentally stumbled upon it as well. Your post captured it spot on.