Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Woman of Honor

Can a sex-trafficked girl who has lost her virginity, been forced into prostitution, and lives with a sexually transmitted disease, even if that disease is not life-threatening…can such a girl become a woman of honor?

Many in the West may have no hesitation in answering that question. We understand that what happens to sex trafficked girls is not their fault. They are victims.

However, the girls that I’m talking about don’t live in the West. They live in the East. And many in the East believe in karma—the iron law of cause and effect. So believers in karma see these girls differently. To them, sex trafficked girls are persons who are reaping the punishment for sins of a past life. To them, these girls get what they deserve.

To become a woman of honor in the East, a girl must be a virgin when she marries. It’s a cruel irony that certain forces in the East compel young girls into prostitution and then despise them for not being virgins.

So the question remains. Can girls who have been sex-trafficked become women of honor?

Besides karma, another important value in the East is face. Face is roughly equivalent to prestige or status. Status is measured largely by wealth. And business ownership is one indicator of wealth.

Recently, I received an email about one of our girls who has completed our program to return home to run a business that we helped her to start. The message reads with only one edit on my part: “Recently everybody is very happy to see the successful of [our graduate]. She is going home with the honor and everyone take her a good example.” Did you see that? She is regarded as a woman of honor and not just by her peers. Society now sees her as a woman of honor because she is a business owner.

I am thankful that the true value of persons is not determined by society but by the Cross. At the Cross, God makes a bold statement that He thinks that we are all worth dying for. But whether in the East or the West, we live within a particular society. We cannot give back sex trafficked girls the precious things that they have lost. But we can help them become women of honor. We can share in God’s work of giving them beauty for ashes.

I will give them a crown to replace their ashes, and the oil of gladness to replace their sorrow, and clothes of praise to replace their spirit of sadness. Then they will be called Trees of Goodness, trees planted by the Lord to show his greatness. (Isaiah 61:3 NCV)