“Maybe our country would actually start to listen if we made Warren Sapp the face of sex trafficking. We act like we’re so far removed from the multi-billion dollar industry. But it’s happening in your neighborhood, in your city, in the lives of the broken celebrities we idolize and praise. People being bought and sold like property. Slavery is more alive than ever–and yesterday Warren Sapp was the auctioneer.”
I posted that status on my Facebook page a few days ago when the news of the arrest of NFL Hall of Famer, Warren Sapp, began to spread. Half of me aching with a broken heart for the women entangled in sex trafficking, the other half of me making a point that I knew would raise conversation because this lost and broken world hates to hear the truth.
Soliciting a prostitute.
That was the charge that wrapped handcuffs on his wrists and that was the charge he openly admitted to.
I waited for the response–a rally cry for the plight of sex trafficking. A conversation about the rampant nature of such a broken trade that seems to own our nation in the shadows and the shade. Surely people were aware that prostitution is sex trafficking in it’s purest form. The buying and selling of sex as a commodity. After all, it is, by definition, a “commercial sex act” and the term “commercial sex act” is defined by the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act as the giving or receiving of anything of value (money, drugs, shelter, food, clothes, etc.) to any person in exchange for a sex act. Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion.
Surely people were aware that the Super Bowl has long been a hub for trafficking and prostitution. That it is the single largest incident of human trafficking in the United States. That many trafficked women are beaten if they don’t reach the levels of income they’re supposed to make, often expected to sleep with 25-50 men a day during big events. That nation-wide stings had been set up and that over 570 men seeking to buy sex and 23 pimps vying to sell it had already been arrested. Surely people knew that countless victims of sex trafficking were being rescued, many underage, and that even more were still lost in the bondage of the multi-million dollar industry.
Surely people knew.
And then my first comment popped in (which the writer has since deleted) accusing me of judging.
Then a few more popped in declaring Sapp’s actions were involuntary.
And then a real zinger rolled in declaring that this isn’t the movie “Taken” and it all has nothing to do with sex trafficking. And making a joke that if he wanted a “side street companion”, we should just let it be.
And I sat back for a second in disbelief and the biggest face-palm ever just about knocked me out of my seat.
Because every single comment proved my exact point and gave perfect example to a truth America doesn’t want to believe. A sad reality–that we would rather see prostitution as recreation than a rampant issue and CRIME in our streets. That we would rather try to call out a voice, who is willing to state the hard truth, for “judging” than opening up conversation about ways we could help set the sexual captives free. That we would rather defend the celebrity than take up the cause of the broken things. That we genuinely believe sex trafficking only looks like the scenes in “Taken” and we are completely and overwhelmingly ignorant to the fact that it is happening around us constantly.
Do we not see the weary women? Yes, there are some who are of age and who choose to prostitute themselves for money. But are we blind to the fact that perhaps they choose that life of crime because they see no other hope or solution? Do we not realize that the vast majority are owned by a pimp or an escort service? Human beings! Owned. And all for the sake of money. Do we not realize that almost all would give anything for a way out? That lying on their backs and holding in the numb tears and being violated in their deepest places only leaves scars we cannot see. Are we a nation that is so arrogantly used to focusing only on the comfortable things that we fail to listen to the silent screams of the underage runaways and children drawn into such horrific things?
Don’t let the laughter and ignorance towards the hurting things be the patriotic cry of our nation. Don’t be the men who see nothing wrong with buying the right to wreck a woman on behalf of physical pleasure and needs. Don’t be the person who rationalizes for the sake of the perpetrator and who willingly ignores sex trafficking. Don’t be the arrogant, privileged person who salutes a flag and thanks God for your freedom then turns a blind eye to the suffering.
My issue isn’t with Warren Sapp or the crime and sin he chose to commit. I am a sinner, too. And I believe grace and forgiveness are as openly offered to Sapp as they are to me. But what will it take for our country to open it’s eyes? For our people to begin to realize the truth of the situation and FIGHT for the freedom of the despised? I will not stay quiet when there are screams that need to be heard. When there are children of God being bought and sold and used and abused and violated and forced and raped and coerced. And if you still believe that there’s no correlation here between prostitution and sex trafficking, I pray some day soon you fall to your knees and find the courage to bring that rationale to the King.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” -Proverbs 31:8-9
Human Trafficking Facts and Figures:
–27 million people around the globe are in bondage
-Only 1-2% of victims are ever rescued
-The average age of a trafficking victim is 12 years old
-Every 30 seconds, someone becomes a victim of modern-day slavery
-Human trafficking is a $31 billion dollar a year industry
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