So, I have access to see what Google search terms bring people to my blog. Most disturbingly, these terms include “sex web syrian girls” and “syrian girls in cairo” as well as “strangers in cairo for sex and friendship” and oddly, “my wife touches my...”
Now that makes me sick.
Literally. Gutturally. Sick.
Men preying on vulnerable girls in areas reeling with crises. I know of these types of stories in Iraq, Kenya, and Rwanda. And I have heard many first accounts from women in Bosnia tortured and attacked by American and European military and peacekeepers. And now, I have this little peek into what may be happening here. It’s a very sad way to wake up.
There are days in Cairo when I feel my only worth here as an American woman is sex and money. It’s as if the Cairenes are overtly nice to me only because they think I come with sex and/or money. If that’s the thinking, I am a sad disappointment. I am nervous to date a man here just yet, due to some past experiences and a recent break up sort of thing. Plus, for many guys here, my short hair seems to be a turn off. So there’s that. And I’m extremely frugal; might need to squeeze this salary out for the months to follow. I am not sex and money. No one wants to feel that way. Maybe this is how life feels in a golddigger marriage. Yuck.
But the Syrian girls that these men (of any race, nationality, or religion) are searching for on the internet. They are who I fear for today.
This frightening glimpse I had into potential sex trafficking is in the context of a country where women’s rights and protections are teetering on an edge. My acquaintance Mahmoud Salem reported in his latest article for Foreign Policy, as an Egyptian addressing America, “Just this week, we had a Salafi member of the Constituent Assembly (the people who are writing our new constitution) talking about efforts to remove or change the law to lower the legal marriage age for girls to the moment they reach puberty and have their first period, even if they are as young as 9 years old. Yes: We might end up having a constitution that grants us child marriages. And you thought you had a culture war.”
I am calling on my friends, Egyptian and American alike, to look stand up against these threats. To thwart this nast when it first appears. To build an alternative. Egypt needs revenue, profit. Desperately reaching out to revive tourism. To revive trade. I hope beyond hope that sex trafficking is not in that mix.
Quick side note: I hold up this beautiful moment when a group of Libyan citizens took to the streets to give their condolences.
As beautiful as Islam is. As amazing as Judaism is, and Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Agnoticism… As religious people, non-religious people, or military people, or liberal people, or revolutionary people, Let us help each other to stick closer to our prophets than our profits. Not making fun of the sign-maker’s simple error. It’s just a reminder to not lose our goodness if thing’s become about the Benjamin’s.
My way of helping the local economy, more felluca rides.
Back to the Google search terms we started this post off with, you should also know that people find this blog through more positive searches, such as “how can i volunteer to help kids with cancer in chicago?” and “egypt america fellowship.” That’s the direction I prefer to steer this ship.
Until recently I thought that sex trafficking was a problem limited to a very tiny number of women and girls here and there around the third world. My eyes have been opened by Dining for Women, an organization that is a giving circle supporting projects for women and girls living in extreme poverty throughout the world. Each month members gather for a pot-luck meal and learn about a program that is addressing fundamental challenges faced by women around the world. Dining for Women members then contribute to the program, many giving what they might spend to dine out in a restaurant.
Sex trafficking is rampant enough that it is frequently cited as a significant contributor to the precarious lives of women in extreme poverty. As an example, at a recent DFW meeting I learned about girls in a rural African region who had stopped going to school. Their parents forbid them to go because several girls in the region had been abducted and had disappeared, presumably into sex trafficking as they walked the three to five miles each day to school. Dining for Women supports a program that was developed by villagers and regional educators to provide an itinerant teacher who visits the villages, oversees the girls’ education with tutoring, books and supplies, and consultation to the adults in the village who provide daily teaching.
Keep up the good work, Shawn, and keep telling us hard truths.
Shawn, I am enjoying hearing about your adventures.
Be safe. Be smart. Be sensitive.