Sunday, January 23, 2011

100 Days in Thailand :: Face to Face with the Sex Industry

I never expected it to be so blatant. So common. So normal, and accepted, and horrific all at once.

Call it whatever you want... 

It's real, and here it is IN YOUR FACE EVERYWHERE YOU TURN.

I was faced with it for the first time today on the sky train when a man walked on with his "rented" Thai girl. She was young and she was BEAUTIFUL.

He was disgusting and OLD. Just imagine the most perverted, disgusting looking fat old man you can think of - balding on top with long, greasy, sweaty, unkept gray hair. The kind of man you don't even want to LOOK at you, much less touch you. And he had his hands on her.

And across the train from us was the most adorable little Thai girl. She was maybe 3 years old, in a frilly little dress and hat. She reminded me a lot of my friend Kelly's daughter Grace, who was just adopted from China. She was beautiful.

And suddenly - the weight of all I was seeing hit me like a ton of bricks.

I began to wonder what life would be like for this precious little girl. Would she be sold by her family someday? Would she be kidnapped by a corrupt cop or brothel owner? Would she grow up to be a toy for some disgusting old man?

The stories I've read about child trafficking came flooding back and I remembered that children are being sold EVERY DAY for sex that are just a couple of years older than that little girl. 5 years old. 7 years old. 10 years old. Sold to disgusting old men like the one standing right next to me.

And with all these thoughts and horrific images in my mind, I just LOST IT. Right there on the bus, I began to cry. My eyes filled up with tears and my chin began to quiver as I tried desperately to hold back the flood of emotion I was feeling inside. I just wanted to curl up in a ball and WEEP for these girls. It was as if all I'd read and seen about the Sex Industry was a horrible nightmare...and then suddenly it was REAL.

I guess I expected it to be some shameful secret that the men at least tried to hide. That I wouldn't see it unless I went out, late at night, to the "Red Light District". But as we walked around all day it became more and more obvious.

There were white men EVERYWHERE. Very few white women. Almost no white families. But many, MANY WHITE MEN. Everyone knew why they were there, and half of them had their rented Thai "girlfriends" with them...walking around with them like an accessory.

They were in line together in Starbucks. At the next table at lunch. Walking past you in the mall. Riding the subway beside you.


And everyone was just acting like it was okay.

I wanted to SCREAM. I wanted to punch them. Slap them. Wrap my hands around their neck. Tell them how DISGUSTING they are and that they should be ASHAMED of themselves. I was FURIOUS and I was APPALLED that this was ACCEPTED HERE! These men should be LOCKED UP!!! But instead they're sitting next to me on the sky train.

And everytime I saw one of them, I just couldn't help but think of the horrific things these beautiful women have to face every day and every night. And how violated and worthless they must feel.

And I realized that THIS is why I am here. To be LOVE and LIGHT to these women, and to help raise the funds needed for the orphanages we are partnered with so that those little girls are PROTECTED from men like this. So that those little girls know their WORTH, and so that they know that they are LOVED. So that those little girls have HOPE and so that they have an opportunity for a future that doesn't include selling their bodies to provide for themselves or their families.

And I realized that giving them that HOPE is worth every sacrifice required of me. 
Because they are WORTH IT.


  1. Wow. This was powerful Ericka. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Jack (AIM '08 India)January 23, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    I agree with everything you wrote Ericka but don't forget that these men need just as much our prayers then those girls. I'm sure right now this seems impossible for a human-standpoint, but God can give you the strength... Good luck to both of you. Take care in Thailand!

  3. I can see through your eyes right now. Through those tears and emotion. Satan is such a liar! Such a user! Thank you for your courage, Ericka. I am praying for each one of those hurting souls. Men and women alike. And for you. LuAnn