July 15, 2017
Sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of children is evident in every corner of the globe and in cities big and small. Thinking that the world is free of slavery is absolutely inaccurate. The more I learn about this seedy underworld, the more angered I become.
Dreamcatchers is one of the latest documentary films about exploitation of women, particularly young girls, in Chicago. It is absolutely shocking to witness this world of girls as young as 8 years old selling themselves in the streets. I work in elementary schools and I can’t imagine not noticing these children. Are we really that blind?
The film focuses on the plight of one woman, Brenda Myers-Powell, who started into prostitution as a teenager. Incredibly, she survived 25 years as a prostitute before she willfully left that world when she woke up in the hospital after a particularly brutal attack from a customer. She has made it her mission to help young women who are currently living on the streets, and to keep young girls from entering that world in the first place.
Brenda is now happily married and working a regular job (though the details of this employment are not detailed in the film). She works in prisons to help girls who have been arrested for prostitution, and she mentors women in the streets in the hopes that she will be able to help them get off the streets. She also runs an after-school club in a local high school to assist young girls who are considered at-risk for dropping out of school and going on the streets.
The stories will absolutely shock you. I was quite literally sick to my stomach, particularly when listening to the stories of the girls in the after-school club. Every single one of these women and girls have suffered years of rapes and molestation, domestic violence, drugs and alcohol addiction, and broken families. It’s absolutely unreal to think of any of them surviving such an upbringing. I can’t imagine them working up from those kinds of odds. What is really disturbing is the video footage of Brenda visiting some of their homes, many of which have 8-10+ children basically living in squalor surrounded by drugs, gangs, prostition and worse. Where on earth are the social workers? Where in the world are the teachers and guidance counselors who are supposed to protect these young people? I can’t see anything but suffering and long prison sentences for all of them, if they don’t die first from malnutrition and violence. It’s absolutely sickening.
I finished the film completely disheartened and without any solutions. My only silver lining was in realizing that Brenda is a foot-soldier in an incredibly horrible world and she is trying desperately to help the world in her small way. I admire her grit and determination, because it can’t possibly be easy, especially because she is dealing with her own scarred childhood. This lovely lady has been in my prayers, as have the beautiful children in this film who are fighting such an uphill battle to survive.
Hebrews 6:10 (NRSV): For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake[a] in serving the saints, as you still do.
Serve all with love.
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