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The Word on the Week

Woman’s Lot.

The paradox this week between the outcry over the rape and murder of Jill Meagher in Melbourne and the disappearance of April Jones in Wales, terrible as they are, and the global trafficking of women illustrates the massive gap between those who have power and those who don’t.

Lydia Cacho, a Mexican woman, whose new book “Slavery Inc” is reviewed this week, writes from a background which includes the exposing of a powerful paedophile ring in Mexico. She survived false imprisonment and torture in the process. The book is the product of 5 years investigative journeying during which she interviewed hundreds involved in all aspects of the trade.

She estimates the between 1 & 2 million are trafficked annually.

The older methods of drugging and kidnapping the victim have been to some extent displaced by an attempt to glamorise the trade. Apparently large amounts of money have been spent on magazines illustrating the culture of porn around the world resulting in changed cultural values.

Women, especially those in countries where they have few choices, are attracted to such life-styles and are open to offers of a new way of life abroad. They end up with a crippling debt which can only be met by entering the sex trade. In many cases this is increased as they have to send money home to dependant relatives. To prevent escape from this way of life the owner of the place where they live retains their papers rendering them powerless.

Some countries openly allow this culture to happen. Lydia came across a colony of 30,000 Dutchmen living in Northern Cambodia. In Holland they know about this as their Social Services pay the pensions to people living in that area. The irony is that many of them have a record of child abuse and would not be welcome back in Holland.

On a positive note Lydia commends the work of organisations such as World Hope who create safe houses and provide skills training to those who escape from this form of slavery.

What has the Bible to say about woman’s lot?

Whilst the widow and the orphan always had special protection in Israel it was Jesus who defended the defenceless. Take the case of the woman caught in the act of adultery. It was Jesus who saved her from the rigours of the law by pointing out the universality of sin as the accusers were brought to face their own fallibility (St John Chapter 8 verses 1 to 11).

It was women that were with him at the cross and it was a woman he first spoke to at the resurrection (St John Chapter 20 Verse 15).

The legacy today is that it is in countries where the Gospel of Jesus Christ has influenced the culture that displayed outrage over Jill and April reflecting the inestimable value of every human life.