There is a new book out that I believe everyone should read. It’s called “Slave Stealers” by Tim Ballard. This is one of the most phenomenal stories I’ve read this year. In a way, Ballard’s story represents a lot of what this site is supposed to be about…sharing the stories of people who are making the world better than it was yesterday.
And that is where we start, Ballard telling the story of yesterday in order to learn from our past to create a plan to save innocent children from slavery.
Did you know American children are kidnapped and sold into the sex slave trade? Within 48 hours of that child being taken, they are sold many times to complete strangers for sex. These children are raped by pedophiles again and again. A child could be raped up to 50 times every single day by complete strangers until they are rescued. Sometimes that can take years (or until they become too old to be of use – mainly around 18 years old).
Out of the 20-30 million people enslaved, “close to six million…are children.”
“Human trafficking brings in an estimated $150 billion annually and is the fastest growing criminal enterprise on the planet. With thousands of children currently forced into the commercial sex trade in the US, and thousands more children smuggled into the US annually for the same purpose.”
The Super Bowl is the “largest single trafficking event in the world.” Surprised? I was.
Children are sold over again and again to rapists and pedophiles at the Super Bowl. It happens right under our nose, on our very own soil. These children are in the sex SLAVE trade on American soil, and until recently were legally sold on the internet thanks to a legal loophole that Congress had to change. [See CDA 230.]
How do we stop this? How do we save the children that are in captivity? The answer is Operation Underground Railroad.
Operation Underground Railroad
Tim Ballard was one of the first members of Homeland Security’s child crimes/countertrafficking group in the early 2000s. This was a relatively new agency (that came out of 9/11/01), as well as a new unit focused on saving children. Saving children from the sex slave trade is a difficult task. You have to go into the deepest, darkest pits of the criminal underground world to save these kids…and that means pretending to be a pedophile.
There were a lot of trainees that could not stomach this. As they role played in class, there were men that had to leave the room to throw up or just couldn’t hack being in this unit, because they were fathers, too. To say they wanted to have sex with a young child, that could have been a child the same age as their own, disgusted them.
But the thing is in order for this unit to work, they had to say the things they had to say in order to get access to the kids to free them. They had to put up a wall that separated themselves from that dark world with that loving family they have at home.
Since this was a relatively new field for this Homeland Security group, they had to come up with tactics to free these child slaves. Ballard decided to read up on the Underground Railroad and slavery. This led him to Harriet Jacobs.
She is one of the first slaves that ever wrote a book. Her book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, gave Ballard the tools he needed to understand slavery and how to get people out.
When he came across Guesno Mardy’s story, Ballard’s time with Homeland Security came to an end. Why? Because he saw that he could not limit himself to just America anymore. He had to help everyone.
Guesno Mardy’s son was kidnapped and sold two weeks before the earthquake crippled his country, Haiti. When Ballard read Mardy’s story, he knew he had to help. He invited Mardy to California where they sat down to talk about what happened. Ballard made a promise to him that he would help him find his son, but he could not do that as long as he was working for Homeland Security (due to jurisdictional issues).
So he left Homeland Security and started Operation Underground Railroad so that he could help everyone around the world combat human trafficking. This is where he would be able to make the biggest impact in saving children from the slave trade.
In order to understand slavery today, Ballard decided to take a look at the way slavery was in America during the 1800s. Harriet Jacobs served as his guide as she told her story of what it meant to be a slave in her book “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.”
Her story of life as a slave, and later as a liberator for those in the Underground Railroad, helped Ballard understand what he needed to do to help these kids. She helped provide the framework he needed on his missions to save trafficked children.
Jacobs is a strong woman that needs to be commended for standing up for herself when her master tried to have his way with her when she was still young. She put safeguards up to protect herself from him, no matter how many years he pursued her. He was obsessed with her, even offered to put her up in her own cottage, so long as she would be his mistress. The obsession grew even more each time she ran away.
His need for Harriet was not in controlling his property. His obsession with her was that he could not control her as a slave, as property or as a woman.
There were people helping her all along her journey, but her greatest fear was that her children would be subjected to the same abuses (or even worse) that she was trying to escape from. She needed to do whatever she could to keep them safe, even if it meant staying close to them by staying in a cramped attic space for almost seven years battling the elements of extreme heat and cold, and being unable to move around freely.
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Why I Care and Why YOU Should Care
There is a reason why I feel strongly about this book and want people to read it, as well as watch the documentary “I Am Jane Doe.”
When I was 18, my mother was in tears when she told me her greatest hurt and secret…she was sold into slavery when she was eight years old. She lived in servitude for seven years before running away to Bangkok. At 21, she married the first GI that paid attention to her (my father) and disembarked to America where her children could not be sold into slavery.
My best friend in high school’s mother waited until her daughter was in her 20s to tell her. Actually, her aunt told her the truth…that she had an older brother. Her mother had been sold into the sex slave trade to serve as a concubine. She was 13. At 15, she gave birth to a son and was immediately turned out of the home where she was forced to live and work in a brothel. She later married a GI and escaped to America so that her children could not be sold into the sex slave trade as she had been.
My cousins from Thailand call my mother to tell of their issues finding work. People approach them about new trafficking schemes where they can go to X country to work. All they have to do is pay a fee for the plane ticket and placement. There are many human trafficking schemes and this is one of them. It happens all of the time. Promises of jobs in other countries, when in fact the job is really a position as a slave.
The slave trade is one of the most lucrative criminal enterprises in all of the world. It never stopped. No matter how many laws the world can come up with to banish slavery, it still exists in one form or another…and people are making billions of dollars from it. For as long as they are making money from selling human beings, they are not going to stop.
Believe it or not, the demand to have child sex slaves is popular in America. The biggest clientele are Americans. What does that say to you? Pedophilia is an even bigger problem than you can imagine. What better way to get away with it than to use child prostitutes that no one is looking for? Or if their parents are looking for them, how best to hide them?
When you see a huge culmination of missing children (like in Washington, DC), you have to question if they are being trafficked. After all, DC was one of the main hubs for slavery when it was legal. Just because it is illegal today, it does not mean the slave trade ever stopped. They just changed the way they did business, catering to a whole new clientele.
If they are making $150 billion annually, selling and reselling the same person over and over again, don’t you think there is a problem? After all, selling a person once nets you only so much money. Selling them up to 50 times a day, every day, for years will net more money…and to them, this is about money, not human lives. As long as there is a demand, they will keep enslaving people and selling them.
If you watch “I Am Jane Doe” (on Youtube, Netflix, etc.), you’ll see this happens to American families. One woman’s daughter was kidnapped right from soccer practice while her mother was sitting in the parking lot waiting for her. Within 48 hours of her disappearance, she found her daughter for sale on the internet.
This happens in American communities. It happens in inner city neighborhoods. This happens when children survive disasters (like the Haiti earthquake) and find they do not have parents anymore. If we could put a stop to this, how could we?
The Pittsburgh Steelers Team Up With O.U.R.
How do we stop this? That is the question this book asks. How do we stop the chaos happening in America? Maybe joining together for a common cause will help put an end to the slave trade in America.
If Americans cared enough about the children, maybe we could ban together to save all of them and create a world where people will not buy children for sex. Instead of allowing politicians to normalize pedophilia, we must take a strong stance against it, unified in that cause to protect children.
That is where the Pittsburgh Steelers come in. The forward to this book was written by Coach Mike Tomlin. He is working with O.U.R. along with the Steelers to help educate the community about the need to end modern day slavery. Considering the Super Bowl is the biggest single sex trafficking event in the world, having a NFL team step in to end it says something.
With everyone burning Nikes, protesting the flag, taking the knee, etc., we can take a moment to all agree that we need to help save the kids being trafficked to games for someone’s sexual pleasure. The 13th Amendment is supposed to protect them, but the criminal world seeks to defy our freedom to be truly free from slavery. These kids are not free human beings and are unable to have the opportunity to burn their Nikes or protest in some manner. When they take a knee, it’s for a reason none of us wants to imagine. That is not a world any child should be living in.
O.U.R. and the Pittsburgh Steelers hope is that we, as a nation, can come together to help liberate those in America that are in chains. We can put our political differences aside and focus on saving humans that are trafficked in America. It does not mean building a wall, because not all sex trafficked victims are coming in from Mexico.
Sex trafficked victims are Americans. They are from other countries. The criminal network finds ways to bring them into our country. They will find ways to snatch your children up right in front of you.
I highly recommend reading this book. Understanding slavery in the past is an insight into how we can deal with modern day slavery.
My favorite parts in this book all deal with Providence (i.e. God is winking back). When you are doing something as crazy as leaving a stable job to start a non-profit, you’re going to need all of the providence you can get. Those little winks keep happening over and over again as Tim Ballard races to save the day with his team.
The things that have happened over the course of O.U.R. is incredible. My favorite story is of the videographer that decided one officer should wear a Go Pro camera on his helmet. He was adamant on which officer should wear it.
When the raid goes down, an officer sees a girl running away. He follows her into a sex den where they are keeping the other girls and finds men raping these young girls. He grabs the men from off of them and slams them into the walls. The men gather up their clothing and flee.
When the officer comes out with the girls with him, he tells them that the rapists got away. But guess which officer found the girls? The only officer with the Go Pro camera on his helmet. They were able to identify each of the men in the video and prosecute all of them.
How is that for providence?
I am hoping that others discover “Slave Stealers” and “I Am Jane Doe,” because they talk about modern day slavery. “I Am Jane Doe” changed CDA 230, the law allowing for the sale of humans on the internet. Congress changed the law because of the Jane Does.
If something as simple as a few former child sex slaves begging for change could bring about change on Capitol Hill, then a group like O.U.R. and Americans wanting to keep slavery out of America for good can change the narrative in America. We can end the slave trade in America and around the world. If there’s no demand or money in selling humans, then this criminal enterprise will end. It’s up to all of us to create that change together.
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