Human Trafficking Symposium – Xavier University, October 27, 2015

By Associate Jackie Paluszak, OPA
By Associate Jackie Paluszak, OPA

When Sr. Judy Morris asked me to give my reaction to the Human Trafficking Symposium at Xavier University that I attended last week, she told me to take a word or phrase that caught my attention and write about it.

As I listened to Edwina Gately, founder of Genesis House, a house of hospitality and nurturing for women involved in prostitution, she said many things. But when she pranced across the stage making the reference to the movie, “Pretty Woman,” she had me in the palm of her hand!

I love that movie! Julia Roberts is one of my favorites and Richard Gere, oh, my. But I think what I like most about the movie is its Cinderella ending.

Julia Roberts portrays the prostitute hired by Gere for a long-term arrangement. He wants to make her someone that meets his needs, someone that she’s not. In the end, he actually falls in love with her and wants to marry her and take her away from it all. If only every story ended like this.

The horrific truth of prostitution is that many are forced into this business. Many are kept in this business against their will.

Some of the statistics that Ms. Gately gave were disturbing:

  • 94% of prostitutes were child incest victims.
  • The average age of death in prostitution is 34.
  • More women and girls are trafficked into prostitution than people into slavery.

Ms. Gately reminded us that the pimps get the prostitutes hooked on drugs to cut them off from reality. The scenario she gave was of the young girl who runs away from home, shows up in the big city bus station where a pimp waits to take care of all her needs. He takes her home and feeds her, gives her a room and clothes. She starts to call him “Daddy.” He starts to call her “Baby.” He takes her shopping, buys her pretty things. Everything in her world is wonderful.

About three, four months later, things change. Daddy asks Baby what she has done for him. After all, he’s given her a home, food, clothes, nice things. Now it’s her turn to give back to Daddy.

And the nightmare begins.

And she is robbed of her dreams.

Ms. Gately’s daughter, Brenda Myers-Powell, Executive Director of The Dreamcatcher Foundation, was a product of human trafficking at the age of fourteen where she escaped an abusive home life and learned to navigate the streets of Chicago.

She would be considered one of the fortunate ones, she survived and was taken under Ms. Gately’s wings. She told us stories of her days on the streets and how she fought to survive. She talked of days where she had nothing and the effect the drugs had on her. She now works to prevent sexual exploitation of at-risk youth and help them find confidence and stability through education.

I go back to Pretty Woman and why I liked the movie. There is no Cinderella ending to human trafficking. Women and girls are abused and used and left empty. They need help to be made whole again.

Won’t you be that help?

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

One response to “Human Trafficking Symposium – Xavier University, October 27, 2015

  1. Thank you for a great reflection, Jackie! The word on the tragedy and crime of human trafficking needs to be heard.

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