Tag Archives: social justice

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Check out my latest posts at www.kaystrom.com/blog .  And be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss my upcoming posts on writing, global issues, and everyday observations.  I’ve so enjoyed having you follow Kay’s Words.  Come on over and follow me on my website~

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Before Freedom… The Better News

Okay, I promised that in my follow-up post on human trafficking, I’d pass along some good news. Here goes:

  • Myanmar (Burma) not only has a significant traffic problem, but also trafficks girls and women to other Asian countries. The positive? The government finally acknowledged the problem and is trying in significant ways to address it.
  • The Czech Republic has introduced a series of anti-trafficking laws and is actively convicting traffickers.
  • Iceland, Israel, and Nicaragua all made progress this last year in facing up to their countries’ trafficking problems, and all are taking major steps to fight it.
  • Lithuania gets high praise for punishing trafficking criminals, for improving its system of identifying victims, and for actively investigating crimes and prosecuting the criminals.
  • United States State Department’s just-released report on Human Trafficking ranks it as one of the most active countries in combating human trafficking.  Still, it needs to better collect local, state and federal data so it can better monitor trafficking trends.
  • Finland prohibits buying sexual services, but only from trafficking victims.
  • Sweden has a unique law that criminalizes the ones who purchase sex. Passed in 1999, the law targets only the purchaser, not the victim. The penalty is a fine or up to six months in prison.  As a result, the country’s trafficking problem is small.
  • Norway, seeingSweden’s success, is preparing similar legislation.

Yea forSweden!  Its approach has proven to be the most effective by far.

How can sex trafficking be defeated?  By severely punishing the ones who profit form it. By arresting its customers. By offering a way out to those held in its bondage. By creating good alternatives for at-risk girls and women.

“We need to ensure that all survivors have that opportunity to move past what they endured and to make the most of their potential.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

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Before Freedom…

Human trafficking statistics:

800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year.

50% are children, 80% women and girls

1 million children are exploited by the global commercial sex trade, every year.

70% of trafficked women and girls are trafficked into the commercial sex industry.

$32 billion–Yearly profits brought in by the human trafficking industry.

$15.5 billion of that is made in industrialized countries.

244,000 – Estimated number of American children and young people estimated to be at risk

12-14 years – Average age of entry into prostitution

In 2009, the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit in the U.S, along with theU.S. Attorneys’ Offices, charged 114 individuals, and obtained 47 convictions in 43 human trafficking prosecutions (21 labor trafficking and 22 sex trafficking).  This is highest number of prosecutions and defendants charged in any given year.

That’s all??

That’s the bad news.  Next post, better news.

 “If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.”

William Wilberforce

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Happy re-birthday, John Newton

Easter Sunday was John Newton’s 264th re-birthday.  

On April 8, 1748, three agonizing months after a horrendous storm all but ripped apart the merchant ship Greyhound and swept all supplies overboard, the wrecked hulk drifted close to the shore off Lough Swilly, Ireland.  When the good people of the village caught sight of it, they rowed their longboats out in search of survivors.  There were only nine.  One was John Newton.

But John was more than a survivor. Notorious as an obnoxious blaspheming troublemaker, the worst of the worst, he

Once Blind, The Story of John Newton

had encountered God’s Amazing Grace.  John Newton was a new man.

People often ask me, “You’re a 21st century abolitionist? Where did that come from?”

From my acquaintance with John Newton.  Yes, yes, I know he was born centuries before me.  But I have been privileged to explore his story in depth for the two books I wrote on his life. And after so much research, after delving so deeply into his own writings, I feel as though he is a dear friend.

John Newton was a vile slave ship captain who became a hard-hitting evangelical preacher in the garb of

John Newton,
The Angry Sailor

an Anglican clergyman. He was also an unabashed and unstoppable abolitionist who passionately spoke and wrote from his own slave trading experience. In the end, he risked everything—his reputation, his wife’s emotional well-being, even his cherished right to preach—in order to bear witness to the slave trade horrors he knew to be true.  He had been a part of it. Determined to help bring about laws that would stop the slave trade, he shocked England with the truth, and he helped to turn the nation’s heart against the African slave trade.

Today, most people know John Newton as the author of Amazing Grace. The words, sung to the soul-wrenching tune of an old slave song, are his testimony.  They are the story of his life.

John Newton lived to see the first anti-slavery law passed inEngland in March of 1807. He died nine months later at the rich age of 83.

Happy re-birthday, John. I look forward to spending 500 or 800 years chatting with you in heaven.

“Every generation seems to have people who make a habit of embodying evil, people who have to look up in order to see the bottom. When they come to know God they are examples to others of God’s amazing grace. I was one of these.”

John Newton

 

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FREE Kindle Downloads!

I have been so, so encouraged by all the comments I’ve received about the Grace in Africa trilogy, and now the newly releasing Blessings in India books.  Thank you everyone! 

All this week, you will find free Amazon Kindle downloads on a couple of the books: 

  • The Call of Zulina, book 1 of the Grace in Africa series, will be available for FREE download Monday the 19th through Wednesday the 21st.
  • The Faith of Ashish, book 1 of the Blessings inIndia series, will be available for FREE download March 22 and 23.

If you haven’t read them, please… help yourself on those days.

If you have read them, you might consider urging your friends to get them as well.  Or perhaps your book club.  Both of the books have discussion questions in the back.

If you like the books, I’d love to have you write a review for Amazon or CBD or Barnes and Noble.

Thanks so much!

 

The Call of Zulina

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George Clooney and Me

George Clooney went to Sudan without me! 

No great surprise, I suppose, considering that he has no idea who I am.  And that his visit to the deadly border region between Sudan and South Sudan had to be kept hush-hush.  And that he was meeting with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, who would likely have shut the door in my face.

I do think George Clooney is good-looking, and I think he’s a great actor.  But most of all, I appreciate his commitment to using his privileged life to help the people of Sudan.  Lots of famous people talk about helping a particular project.  They pose fetchingly with a poor little kid from the region and offer emotional sound bites, then make their way to comfy accommodations.  But George is serious about his involvement.  He went to war-torn Sudan in January 2011, just as the people there were casting votes to separate into two countries.  George was so moved by what he saw that he helped found the Satellite Sentinel Project (it uses satellites to track soldiers’ movements and attacks) in the hope of heading off more aggression. He even got malaria like as real anybody. Now, after this latest trip, he is testifying before a U.S. Senate committee.

My last visit to Sudan was before the cease-fire and vote to split the country.  I must say, I have never heard such heart-wrenching stories as were poured out in the refugee camps.  And never have I been so inspired by the dedicated resilience of a people. I would love to go back and follow up on that trip.  So many new stories to hear!

God calls us to seek justice for the oppressed, to stand in the gap and offer protections, to provide a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. I want to be such a voice.

George left me behind, but never mind.  I’ll find a way to go to South Sudan on my own.  Maybe I’ll even send George Clooney a postcard saying: Wish you were here.

“We are only successful as a human race by how we look out for the people who can’t look out for themselves.”

George Clooney

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Charles Dickens and Me

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

When I was in 7th grade, my teacher Mrs. Eckert announced to our class that would be reading A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens.  We thumbed through the book and groaned in unison. Too long!  Too old-fashioned!  Too hard!

Still, I wasn’t one to duck my assignments.  My mother wasn’t one to allow me to!  So I grudgingly began. Paris and London.  Revolution and respite.  Charles Darnay, the reluctant French aristocrat and Sydney Carton, the British barrister who defended him in court and just happened to look amazingly like him.  And Lucie Manette, the sweet young thing loved by both, but married to Charles Darnay.

I didn’t know much about the French Revolution when I began the book, but by the time I finished it, I understood a great deal.  Excesses of wealth and power, and the horrific response they spawn.  I soaked in the plot twists :  Madame Defarge in her husband’s wine shop, knitting, knitting, knitting. I discovered underlying themes: Sin and redemption.  Death and resurrection.  And most wrenching of all to my twelve-year-old heart, the power and sacrifice of love.

With Charles Darnay imprisoned in the Bastille awaiting the guillotine, Sydney Carton had him drugged and secreted away in a carriage headed for London, then he took Charles’ place in prison.  To Lucie, Sydneyvowed:

I will give my life to keep one you love beside you.

Sydney Carton went to his death without regret.

It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done.  It is a far, far better place I go to than I have ever known.

Charles and Lucie made it safely back toEngland.  They named their baby son after Sydney.

Imagine being able to touch hearts and move society to action through words on a page! I wanted to do that!

Thank you, Mrs. Eckert, for introducing me to Charles Dickens.  Thank you Charles Dickens for being the spark for my own writing career. 

Oh, and happy 200th birthday, Charles Dickens!

“Charity begins at home, and justice begins next door.”

Charles Dickens

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