I read stuff like this all the time. (the bold is in the original)
Sarah said that she just couldn’t bear to watch her own kids starve to death.Once near the border, she met smugglers who helped her get to China, but unbeknownst to her, they then sold her to a Chinese farmer. … After a few months of this, she met a group of Korean missionaries from a neighboring town, who soon started visiting her with the Bible and Korean food. Sarah asked them to help her run away. The missionaries told her that the Bible says that divorce is bad, and that she must stay married no matter what and just try to be happy. The missionaries in fact refused to help her run away because even a forced marriage was a marriage.
Esther crossed the border and met a Christian family who gave her food and shelter, and then tried secretly to sell her to a marriage broker. Her story had a different twist, though. This broker knew that missionaries were in the business of “rescuing” North Korean girls, so he sold her to the missionaries instead—at a discount. Even during the time I was at this safe house, trafficking brokers repeatedly called the missionaries about the girls in their custody, and the missionaries negotiated with them over the price of rescue. One missionary even joked to me about selling a television set to rescue a girl.
When I asked Esther where she wanted to live ultimately, she could not answer. Her parents were dead, she had no family anywhere, and she’s been on the run since the age of 14. While she hesitated in silence, the missionary running the safe house answered for her. She said, “Of course Esther is going back to North Korea. That’s her calling—to go back as a missionary and spread the Gospel in North Korea.” Esther never got to answer the question herself.…
There’s no question that missionary networks provide much needed help to women and girls in situations both dire and desperate. But as self-appointed custodians of vulnerable populations who find themselves confined in isolated networks disciplined by evangelical agendas, missionaries also indoctrinate and discipline the women in their custody, making decisions based not simply on “good intentions” and supposedly non-political humanitarian principles, but also out of deeply-held religious beliefs.
During the course of my research, I’ve met missionaries who openly question the trafficked women’s moral character, describing the women as having acquired a “taste” for sexual promiscuity. They complained about thieving children and adults with no work ethic, and they also participate directly and indirectly in sustaining the existing trafficking networks. This isn’t surprising, especially since the evangelical groups involved in North Korean anti-trafficking and human rights advocacy tend to be conservative and closely aligned with the neoconservative Washington. But I need to emphasize that ideas around Christian morality and “family values” play a huge role in shaping what antitrafficking activism looks like not just in the abstract, but in the ways that very much determine people’s lives. And where is the accountability?
In the US, “alien detention centers” are the fastest growing sector of the prison industrial complex, and “illegal aliens” are being held today at more than 400 detention centers throughout the US, without legal representation or badly needed medical attention. Despite all the promises of deliverance to safety and freedom, North Korean refugee resettlement in the US and Canada remains painfully slow. For example, a total of 170 North Koreans have sought asylum in Canada since 1996. Since 2003, only 3 North Koreans have been granted asylum.
–The Price of Rescue – On Trafficking and Missionaries
Ju Hui Judy Han PhD
Candidate in Geography University of California, Berkeley
Prostitution is the red herring they use, it’s a scapegoat, a cover, a big ol’ ruse. It keeps us distracted – eww sexx, or oh, it’s a woman’s issue – and gives them an endless supply of converts and victims.
Something important, or at least something to seriously consider is how prostitutes, if their work was a personal right, could have incredible power to not only direct their own lives, but to help other women – not prostitutes – just average women who have decided to go somewhere, do something, try something so that they are not watching their own children starve to death.
Nobody cares about these women. Christians care? Rescuers Care? I told you, I read this stuff all the time. Go search for it, you’ll find it.
I can’t ever find out what happens to the “rescued”, other than the women the ASTM trots out as poster children for the cause. Those poster women – it’s usually the same few over and over showing up at conferences and publicity events. But the majority of the rescued? I can’t figure it out. There aren’t enough facilities anywhere. If a group rescues some people, where do they go? Deported seems to be what happens to many, they don’t use the word “deport” though, but I don’t like how that is always the end of the story. “We rescued kids, sent them home” – well what is home like for them? Are they Ok? Did you, kind christian, sell that child yourself, but to a good “christian” home and the price was a “donation”? Did you? Where is home, for an orphan?
Who are you secularists, you humanists, who let this continue? Why buy these lies because it panders to your own discomfort about sex, or love, or even abuse? Would you buy these lies if it was about anything besides sex, and sex-work? Even if you do believe that prostitution promotes rape culture and the status quo – it’s been criminalized forever – wouldn’t de-criminalized be not-status-quo? At the very least, can we stop with that delusional lie – that de-criminalizing would be the status quo – when it has never been?
Who is there to help these women? Religious people? Proslytizers? Why not Prostitutes? I think the religious folks know it, too, that prostitutes help women, all women, and children, and we always have. If a person has a choice – of the christians or the pagans – well, forget it because no person has a choice, everything the pagans do, drug or sex, is illegal, and they aren’t able to help anyone, not in any real way. The pagans are oppressed.
And wow, I’ve blown my mind cuz that’s totally what it is.