Rapha House helps trafficked girls find home

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courtesy of the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition

According to Equality Now, human trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. 

Faith Scheidemantle

According to raphahouse.org, rapha is a Hebrew word which means “healing.” Rapha House is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on providing safe houses for girls who have been rescued from slavery and sexual exploitation, according to Rapha House’s website. The organization’s corporate headquarters is in Joplin. Its international safe houses are in locations such as Cambodia, Thailand, and Haiti. Stephanie Garman Freed and Joe Garman, her father, co-founded the organization in 2003.

“We are a small staff with an army of volunteers all over the country,” said Freed.

According to Rapha House, human trafficking is a crime in which one human controls and exploits another through the use of force, deceit, or coercion.  Victims are often forced into labor or sex acts in order to repay an undefined debt that increases faster than it can be repaid. Human trafficking, a form of modern day slavery, is now among the fastest growing criminal businesses in the world.

Unfortunately, children are especially vulnerable to this crime. Both small children and teenagers are tricked, coerced, or sold into prostitution, pornography, or forced labor. Many are transported across borders into the global sex trade and are never reunited with their families.

Once a child is removed from her family, the trafficker often confiscates her identification papers and takes her to an unknown location. There she may be drugged and forced into prostitution, pornography, or menial servitude. Often the child is beaten, raped, and locked up with little hope of escape. 

Even if the child becomes free, she may require a lifetime of counseling and social services to heal from the deep physical and emotional traumas she has experienced. These are the types of services Rapha House provides.

On Nov. 14, 2016, the Southern social work club partnered with Rapha House to show Finding Home in Phelps Theatre.  Finding Home is a documentary created by Rapha House to give people a glimpse into the safe houses and the lives of the girls who stay there.

Rapha House teaches different trades to these girls so that they can get jobs and start better futures for themselves. Rapha House sells many of the products these girls make on its website. According to raphahouse.org, donations are used for the following: basic necessities, shelter and security, counseling and social services, and education and training. Rapha House’s number one priority is to keep the girls safe.

“I am so thankful that God brought me here to live,” said one girl living at a safe house. “This is the first place I’ve ever felt safe and loved.”

 

Finding Home shows viewers the lives of a few of the girls who live, or used to live, at Rapha House. Their stories are all unique and reveal different truths about the trafficking world. Viewers are told about drug abuse and slavery. They watch as a young girl is beaten by her captors and as another gets married to the love of her life. Viewers watch intently and silent tears stream down their cheeks. Finding Home does not just reveal the truth about human trafficking, it gives people actual names and real faces and true stories.

                 

“You don’t give up. You can’t stop fighting for these girls,” said Freed. “Victims of trafficking are so much more than their stories. They’re my heroes.”

                 

According to the website equalitynow.org, trafficking women and children for sexual exploitation is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. This, despite the fact international law and the laws of 134 countries criminalize sex trafficking.

At least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor, according to the International Labour Organization.

According to UNICEF, about 2 million children are exploited every year in the global commercial sex trade and almost 6 in 10 identified trafficking survivors were trafficked for sexual exploitation.

According to the International Labour Organization, women and girls make up 98 percent of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

More information on Rapha House can be found at raphahouse.org. More information on Finding Home can be found at www.findinghomefilm.com.