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Sold into the sex trade

What does it feel like to be sold into the sex trade as a young girl? I can’t imagine the horror of a 12 year-old girl being forced to leave home and then be sold to a brothel and then to strange men. Think about it. Put yourself in their shoes. What night terrors must they face? How would they e…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
What does it feel like to be sold into the sex trade as a young girl? I can’t imagine the horror of a 12 year-old girl being forced to leave home and then be sold to a brothel and then to strange men. Think about it. Put yourself in their shoes. What night terrors must they face? How would they even begin to process the pain?
Amanda Howard, a World Racer, helps us get a sense for what it must be like:
“We had dinner at the night market near the Red Light District of Chiang Mai. In the middle of our meal, a young girl approached the table selling jasmine. She was going through a process calling “seasoning”. This meant that she was already owned by a brothel, and through this job, they were prepping her for interaction with strangers. They were preparing her to be a prostitute.
She wouldn’t be able to return “home” that night until she had sold all of her flowers, so as I was pondering how to actually help her, I wondered if buying all of her flowers and sending her back to the brothel early would really even be better. I offered her food, but she declined. As I was racking my brain for a solution for her, her glassy eyes looked around in fear and desperation and she slipped away. The hint of jasmine lingered.

We walked through the market. A young boy quickly caught my attention. He too was selling flowers. He too was being seasoned. He too was a slave; a soon-to-be sex slave, and no matter how he felt, his identity would soon be stripped and he would be transformed into a “ladyboy”, sold as a woman.

The sound of the girl sobbing brought me back to my senses and I realized that I was staring. Most of my team was further ahead, but they had stopped at this point as well.

Her world had just come crashing down. I wondered if it was her first time. I knew it wouldn’t be her last. Even if it was her first experience, I knew that she would be sold as a virgin yet again. They would send her to the doctor, stitch her back up, and resell her like she was new, just to make more money off of her. This process would continue as long as her body would allow.

She wore her hair long. It was beautiful and dark and flowed down her back. She looked so young, so innocent, so heartbroken, so hopeless. She stood in the arms of a woman next to a man on a motorcycle and she was sobbing hysterically. The woman wrapped her arms around her, but she had a smirk on her face and the other women simply snickered in the background. They got their money out of her, and they knew that it was only a matter of time before she would become accustomed to the business. She hid her face in the woman’s arms, but he continued to speak to her.

“Are you okay? Are you feeling any better? I hope it doesn’t hurt too bad. Well, at least you can go home now.”

I wanted to run back, grab her out of their arms, and throw any amount of money at them just to save her. I wanted to scream and tell her that she was loved.

“You are precious! You are beloved! You are NOT alone! You are still pure! You have a heavenly Father that has NOT abandoned you, so don’t give up hope!”

I choked back the tears and kept the prayers flowing from my lips as we continued to walk down the street.” 

Comments (12)

  • just when i think my heart can’t be broken into any smaller pieces than it already is… oh, Father, help them…

  • Thanks Seth. The problem is so obvious and horrific. The durable solutions are less obvious. But you know that. Hope you are well….Shalom…

  • torufinikeme Christopher

    As i was reading the story ,tears of anger find stream in my face.The story touched the core calling of God in my life..”Building families in God for a virile human society”.
    What you saw is the dehumanising effect of the collapsed family structure in our society.
    We no more have homes in families. Marriages have being sacrificed for economic reasons.
    That girl of 12 is she not on this plant earth for a purpose of God. Satan is wicked. See what he has done to mankind.
    Let’s preach the Gospel aggressively to choke satan out of our homes.

  • oh my soul.

    thank you to all of the people heading into the darkness to offer light to each one. and for the compassion (that i could not muster) to even offer hope to the pimps, madams, and johns.

    oh my soul.

  • He came to set the captives free, and we are to be about His business.

    I recently had someone reproach me for caring about “freeing the slaves” more than “sharing the gospel.” I was in shock, because I simply don’t believe those two things are separate. How on earth can I share the good news of God’s saving love, without demonstrated action? He argued that the disciples all thought that Jesus was going to save them from the Romans–a political, “earthly” victory… but His true victory was on the cross, and made the way into heaven.

    So what? What’s so great about heaven? Hanging out with cherubs singing forever?


    Heaven: God’s Kingdom is where God’s rule and reign are supreme–there is no rape, no sex trafficking, no “seasoning”, no racism, no hunger, no AIDS, no loss, no tears, no pain… and Christ taught us to pray, “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

    We live in the tension of the now and the not yet. When we focus entirely on the “not yet”, we fail to be living witnesses (in the now) of the hope that is to come. Freeing slaves is not incompatible to the gospel, or separate from it. That’s a false dichotomy. To a slave, that freedom IS the gospel: the good news that a God sees, cares, loves, rescues, and restores… and his name is Jesus.

  • Well said, Chelsea. You express my perspective as well. I appreciate your thoughtful insight.

  • This is heavy. I don’t even have words to describe the heaviness in my heart. And it hurts my heart. And makes me want to help.

  • Oh my! I am reminded of a programme ages ago, sorry I cannot remember the name, but it was filmed in Africa regarding the witch doctors there, one particular swine, had preyed one a lady who was having fertility troubles, and after her daughter was born, she had no cash to pay him, so he has the child in the voodoo convent till she can pay him. She has no name, no nothing. I was mad. I wanted to shout she has a fricking name! God has a name for her! I prayed God would show her her name!

    I hope this child is reunited with her mother, and have been praying for this ever since. This child is also precious, and I hope she can be rescued by someone who has some set up! It must of been so heart wrenching to of had to of walked away, I don’t know If I could of done that. Those monsters enjoyed her misery by the sound of it, and I hope and pray they do not ruin her or any other child any further.

  • Chelsea, you stated it so well. I too have people question my practices of setting the sex captives free. That IS the Gospel! I would love to communicate with you. Bless you so much.

    [email protected]

  • Interesting that this came into my ‘junk’ file. I guess because of the word ‘sex’ in the title. As I read it, I was reminded that what is done to these girls is indeed junk. I help vulnerable orphans because of stories like you just shared. May none of us sleep soundly at night as long as this sort of thing goes on and we aren’t doing something about it.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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