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“You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.” Psalm 10:17-18

About Child Sex Trafficking

Children sitting down

What we do

When victims, rescued by local police and/or International Justice Mission, are placed in our secure home, they begin a program of rehabilitation. Our holistic program offers physical, emotional, and spiritual care to help these young women make successful and healthy transitions into society. We aim to establish purposeful, research-based, professional, and holistic programs to address the psychological, physical, spiritual, intellectual, and social needs of our residents. Inputs include universal standards of child rights and protection, local minimum standards of care, and accepted good or best practice principles. The programs and services at My Refuge House include: protection, basic needs, medical/health care, psychological care, spiritual formation and direction, education and skills training, life skill instruction, legal assistance and protection.

Background and Importance

An estimated 27 million people are enslaved around the world today – that’s more than the population of 18 States. There are more people enslaved today than during the entire trans- Atlantic Africa slave trade.

The U.N. and other experts estimate the total market value of illicit human trafficking at 32 billion. These numbers make trafficking in persons the 2nd most lucrative crime in the world. The first is drug trafficking (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2006).

There are anywhere between 600,000 and 800,000 victims trafficked through international borders every year, which does not include the millions trafficked domestically within their own countries (U.S State Department)

Sex Trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of commercial sex induced by force, fraud, or coercion

Approximately 80% of transnational victims are women and girls, and up to 50 % are minors (U.S State Department). The majority of transnational victims are females trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. Traffickers prey on those who suffer most from macro factors like gender discrimination, family violence, and a lack of access to education and economic opportunity.

Approximately 1 million children are exploited by the global commercial sex trade every year (US State Department, The Facts about Child Sex Tourism: 2005).

As of 2005, the Philippines ranked fourth among nine nations with 60,000 to 100,000 children involved in prostitution. The Province of Cebu, as the most densely populated island in the country and Cebu City, as the second most significant urban center in the Philippines has successfully promoted the region as a tourist destination where one can mix business with pleasure.

The dark side, unfortunately, is that Cebu is considered as one of the top five areas for child prostitution and sex tourism. Cebu City has become the destination point of internal and domestic trafficking of children as young as 11 to 17 years old coming from Samar, Bohol, Leyte, Negros and Bacolod.

The Philippines has been identified as source, transit and destination country for internationally trafficked persons (Trafficking in Persons Report, 2009)

Child sex trafficking is a major issue in the world today. There is an extreme injustice to millions of young women and children that must be addressed, especially within the Christian community. Slaves are not merely something people read about in history books, but they are part of the world today in many countries, including the United States, even though there are laws against it. Although there are times when pedophiles and brothel owners are thrown in jail, this does not always happen. Good people need to fight against sex slaves for the purpose of justice.

Many victims are placed in positions of helplessness for various reasons. They are not able to fight for their rights, because all of their rights are stripped away so that they can be someone else's slave.

Living in the United States during the twenty-first century provides a sense of safety and freedom. It is difficult to immediately see that slavery still exists since African American slaves are a horror of the past. After all, America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Although these things are true of the United States, it is vital to have the knowledge that slavery is not merely a part of history. It is happening now. Currently, there are many forms of slavery around the world but child sex slavery is specifically one of the most appalling. This is an awful truth that must be addressed. In an issue of National Geographic in the fall of 2003, sex slavery was brought to light and “made the case that there are approximately twenty-seven million slaves in our world today that's more slaves in our world today than were extracted from Africa during four hundred years of the transatlantic slave trade.”

There are countless young girls and even boys that are forced into this devastating fate. Moreover, there are children as young as five-years-old involved. There are entire villages that are economically formed around the sex trade. Most of them are in South Asia, but they exist all over the world. They are usually deceived into being trafficked, but sometimes they are offered into slavery by their parents for a profit. Gary Haugen, President of International Justice Mission and author of Terrify No More discusses how girls are constantly being exploited for this trade. Haugen states that girls and their parents are told they can have a better future if they obtain a well-paying job, but later find out that they are being forced into prostitution. Once at their “new job”, they are given new clothes and told what is required of them. By this point, the victims have no escape because they now have a debt to pay the brothel owners for their purchase. They have no other choice but to be sex slaves in hope that eventually they will be able to leave that horrible place where they are violated numerous times a day.

Even though the sex trade and slavery are against the law, government officials turn their eyes and allow it to happen because that is simply “the way things are”. As the book Terrify No More states, most of the clients are tourists. Some perpetrators are police officers that should be fighting against the atrocity, but are supporting it instead. Consequences for these children if they do not perform in a way in which their customers leave satisfied is physical abuse and starvation. Even though these girls are told that one day they could work to pay off their debt and leave, this cannot be guaranteed because they are property of the people who purchase them.

The depravity child sex slaves face on a daily basis must be stopped. We, as Americans who live in the land of plenty, are called to raise awareness of this issue and take action in the quest for justice.

Original report by Lindsey Nied

Revised and Edited by Nannette Ricaforte

Meet the Director

Crystal Sprague

Clinical Director, My Refuge House, Philippines


Crystal Sprague has been serving as the Clinical Director of My Refuge House since the Spring of 2010. As Clinical Director, she oversees the day-to-day care of the home that provides a safe transitional placement for victims of trafficking and sexual abuse.

From a young age, Crystal has felt a deep philanthropic passion to help others. To that end, she graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with her Master's degree in Social Work after completing her Bachelor's degree at Southwestern Assemblies as a double major in Church Ministries and Counseling Psychology.

Before coming to My Refuge House, Crystal gained experience in the field as an Aftercare Fellow with International Justice Mission where she supervised the writing and implementation of group therapy and curriculum for victims of human trafficking. She also worked on policy and procedures at local shelters in the Philippines. For more than three years, Crystal served as a houseparent at All Church Home For Children, a home for children with behavioral challenges that prevent them from long-term placements. Her experience as a social work intern at Mosaic Family Services prepared her for this job as she gained insight in counseling and case management to immigrant and refugee victims of abuse and trafficking.

Crystal stresses that relationship-building is crucial to the healing environment—and that's something she's teaching and driving home with the staff to ensure that relationship-building is a priority.

Crystal describes her experience of helping rescued girls in these words: "When a girl first comes into the building or into aftercare, you can see the despair and hopelessness in her eyes, and then you watch how she changes when she realizes she is surrounded by people who love her, people who believe in her. You watch her life slowly begin to change. When I've seen girls in those initial stages and then get to see them progress... it's simply amazing!"

To get updates from Crystal direct from the Philippines visit her blog at www.crystalssprague.blogspot.com

 

From the Directors Desk

Directors Notes

Greetings from My Refuge House!

Although, I’ve only officially been the Clinical Director at My Refuge House (MRH) for a few weeks, there are many things that I love and appreciate about this ministry. Let me name a few for you:

The dedication of the staff. One of the hardest parts about this kind of work, is finding people who believe in it and are willing to work hard to see lives changed. Most people love the idea of helping trafficking victims, there are very few people alive who would tell you that trafficking is not wrong, however, the actual work of investing in the lives of victims is very hard. And the staff here, the houseparents, social workers, admin and even members of the board, understand how hard this work is. And they are committed to seeing lives change.

Watching the girls respond to being cared for. It really is incredible, when you take someone out of a situation of abuse (most of our clients lived as victims of trafficking, and also grew up in abusive families), and you begin to teach them and show them by example that there are other ways of life. It takes repetition to learn anything, and our clients need love, acceptance, and boundaries shown to them, repetitively. When anything is new, it feels uncertain, but it’s exciting when the girls begin to feel safe in this new environment.

The incredible ways God provides for our needs. Obviously, we have a lot of needs here at MRH. And repetitively, I am amazed at the way God provides for those needs. Whether it’s people who know People who know people who hear about us and want to help or people who pray for a ministry like this and then come in contact with someone who works with us a few days later. Over and over again our needs are met in incredible ways. If you are one who has helped us, Thank you! I can’t wait to see the ways God will continue to provide here!

Crystal S. Sprague

Clinical Director

My Refuge House

Cebu, Philippines

My Refuge House is currently accepting donations that will go directly to the new aftercare facility in the Philippines.

If you would like to make a donation, you may write a check to “My Refuge House” and send it to:

My Refuge House
P.O. Box 4864
Diamond Bar, CA 91765-0864
USA

or you can make a donation online through Paypal

link to paypal

My Refuge House respects and protects the privacy of our online visitors and donors. We will not share any personal information with third parties.

All gifts are tax deductible.

Special Requests

This is a list of items specifically requested by the residents and on-site staff at My Refuge House. If you are able to provide any of the listed items or if you have information that may assist us please contact us at info@myrefugehouse.org.

- a vehicle, like a van, to transport the residents to and from appointments in the community and in case of emergencies.

- donated office furniture such as file cabinets, conference table, desks to accommodate our staff operations

- donated furniture for the dorm rooms such as desk tables, lounging furniture, and sofa – to provide a place for our residents to hang out in.

- a digital camera - aside from taking photos for case documentation, a digital camera would give us an opportunity to teach creative things like printing out photos for their scrapbooks, bulletin boards, or send to family.

My Refuge House
P.O. Box 4864
Diamond Bar, CA 91765-0864
Tel 1.714.622.4902

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“ You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.” Psalm 10:17-18