Sex sucks

Sexual exploitation, that is. It sucks bad.

Why do some women choose to sell themselves for sex? Why are some women forced  into selling themselves for sex? And why do some men buy women for sex?

And how on earth is buying and selling sex so prevalent since prostitution is illegal in Thailand… and human trafficking in the entire world?

So, I take it back. In this context, sex sucks. Period.

To even consider that prostitution is good for the economy is absolutely grotesque to me.  I know I’ve not been at the level of poverty that some of these women have come from, nor can I ever fully understand their circumstances. But to be ok with any woman choosing to enter this work at their own will does not sit well with me in any way, shape or form.

In fact, I’ve heard a statement along the lines of women do not choose prostitution but that prostitution chooses them since the majority of all women entering prostitution have been sexually abused.

All this to say, every part of me recoils over this and I know the answers to my questions are not simple. Through my experience, I observed how deeply ingrained this issue is in the Thai culture, leaving no aspect untouched.

And as far as sex trafficking goes, it is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world.

My heart breaks over it all and yet I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to experience it first hand.

During my time in Bangkok, I met women who were beautiful, smart, sweet, outgoing, caring, and the list goes on… Unfortunately, the work of these women entailed either 1) standing on a sidewalk dressed quite fashionably and even respectfully in some cases, making themselves visible and available to potential customers.

streetwalker

2) Seated in a hotel restaurant with other women having a light meal, conversing, and texting while men walked in standing but ten feet away while weighing their options and making their selection. Or 3) standing on a stage in a bar with several other women wearing a small bikini and a red circular badge bearing a number to distinguish them to prospective buyers seated in booths with stadium-like seating around the stage.

Yes, they are but a number. And I witnessed the selection and buying process with my own eyes in each of these scenarios. And it sucks. It totally sucks.

But the good news is, to Someone, they are more than a number. Better yet, to Someone, they are so valued that the number of hairs on their head is known (Matthew 10:30). There is Someone who is absolutely crazy for every one of these women. He knows their name, He delights over them, and cares about them more than they’ll ever know.

And this Someone is stopping at nothing to reveal His love to them.

And I know this is true because I saw it with my own eyes. I observed God’s love demonstrated in the sweetest ways through the work of NightLight. Truly, grace in action. And true to their namesake, they are a bright light in a dark place.

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The grace, the love and the patience they pour out is like nothing I’ve seen before. Not to mention the incredible fortitude they possess. Thank God so much for NightLight and similar organizations who are doing all that they can to combat the sex industry.

They are my heroes.

And while I am so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to Bangkok and spend time with the amazing people of NightLight, I know not all are so fortunate. So may my trip not be in vain.

I ask you to please take a moment to learn more about what NightLight (or any of the many organizations that exist to help women who are being sexually exploited) does, why they do it and consider how you can help. Here are some suggestions:

  • Follow this blog to get an up close and personal  perspective of the work of NL and the friendships they are cultivating with people working and participating in the sex industry: Love Never Fails
  • Like them on Facebook to stay informed on news and issues surrounding sexual exploitation
  • Buy jewelry
  • Pray

jewlery

Do something. Anything.

And please make no mistake. This isn’t coming from a desperate place, it’s from a place of Hope. After all, “No one has a right to feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”

And your help is valuable and necessary for this work!

hope
I am sitting in the midst of the Nana red light district here, smiling because there is Hope.

People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.

 – Dorothy Day

I am Asian woman. Hear me roar.

Or in all honesty, meow may be more like it??

Though as most of you know, my laughter can be roar-like.

lion

So in exactly one week, I’m headed back on a jet plane. This time, the destination is Bangkok, Thailand and I’ll be there for three weeks.

While I’m going with a heart wide open, I have some clear purpose and a bit more focus going in to this trip.

Women. Asia. Justice.

I wrote this in the personal statement of my medical school application in 2008:

I believe that the health of women is absolutely vital to the health of every community. And if there is any patient who benefits from a connection on an intimate level it is that of women. The complexities and intricacies of their health concerns and unique issues greatly inspire me. I seek to understand the physiological components specific to women’s health all the while making genuine connections that make a real difference in their comprehensive care.

I believe in women in a big way. In fact, I could probably take what I have stated above one step further and say that the health of women is the health of the community.

Women create community. After all, God gave Eve to Adam. And so community began.

So God is fulfilling my desire to care for women’s health just in a different way than I had imagined…

And I confess here, I have carried much shame around my Filipino background. Mainly from the standpoint of looking in the mirror and finding it hard to see beauty looking back at me.

But as I journey into my Father’s heart, I’m beginning to see myself more clearly. I’m seeing the beauty that is me.

And how else would I be able to recognize the beauty in my Asian sisters in Thailand???

This is the redemption I so love about God. He works all things together for good. He’s so amazing.

Amazing and just. And oh me oh my there is so much need for justice in the world. So much.

It’s overwhelming to me. And it’s moments like this that has stopped me in times past from doing my part… it’s so much easier to not do anything.

But not now. My flight is booked. I’m on my way.

I know that what I’m entering into will take more than a meow.

But the good news is I carry a Hope within that has a roar like no other. (Colossians 1:27, Revelation 5:5)

That He would choose me to carry life, truth and freedom makes me one lucky girl. Er, I mean woman.

Yes, I am Asian Woman. Hear me rooooooooaaaaaar.

We can do no great things, only small things with great love. ~Mother Theresa~

To learn more about the organizations I’ll be serving with, click below:

NightLight International

Iris Bangkok