At times it is difficult to connect with the ladies under sexual exploitation as the local government has become serious in its efforts to "clean up the streets" and crack down on prostitution. The tough reality of this is that in many areas of our city it has led to those under exploitation being treated like criminals – as opposed to the ones doing the exploiting. It has also meant that, while the industry has continued to exist, it has been moved further underground, to places and times of day away from the public eye.
But if the clients can still find the ladies, surely, we can too!
We found that one of the brothels we visit regularly was empty at our usual visiting time of 9pm. The management advised us that the women had been coming later when they were safer from interference. So, the following week we visited just after midnight, and we didn't come alone...
Our friend who teaches storytelling for trauma healing came to the brothel with us. The women were amazed that an older woman (our friend is in her early 70s) would travel the world to spend time with them. They gathered their chairs in a circle and turned off the TV so they could hear the story better.
Our friend chose to tell the story of a blind man by the side of the road who was healed. When she asked how he might have felt one of the ladies unexpectedly said, “I don’t need to guess how he felt – I was blind for several years myself and it is the worst thing in the world!”
It was a great opportunity to see how the story telling tool we’d been learning is done in our context by a master. Through the story and discussion, we were able to connect deeper with the ladies and to continue to restore hope in their lives as we faithfully visit and show interest in them.