Earlier this month, Nashville, Tenn., investigators reported that a 22-year-old woman was held as a sex slave and tortured for nearly four years. According to news reports, she was driven between Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida in an effort to confuse her about her location and was reportedly forced to engage in prostitution with up to seven men a day.
Recently, police in Memphis, Tenn., busted a sex-slave brothel. In Brentwood, Tenn., investigators are still working on the case of a 13-year-old Hispanic sex slave. Many immigrant girls and women remain in the sex-slavery system because of threats against family members if they try to escape, and many fear being deported if they go to the police for help.
Two men in Charlotte, N.C., were sentenced in July to 14 years in prison for smuggling a teenage girl into South Carolina and forcing her into prostitution.
In addition to Nashville, Memphis, Brentwood, and Charlotte, Atlanta has been called the "ground zero" of child prostitution. Last year, Randi Kaye, a CNN correspondent, reported that beneath Atlanta's nationally recognized strip-club culture ...
... there is an underground world of child prostitution, a multi-billion-dollar business worldwide-sex slaves, girls as young as 9, paraded on the streets for money, sold from pimp to pimp, locked inside seedy motel rooms to do the unthinkable. ... Nobody knows how many underage girls are on the streets, but child advocates say, it probably runs into hundreds, in both poor and wealthy parts of the city.
When I lived in Grand Rapids, Mich. (a Midwestern version of the Bible Belt), I learned of a 16-year-old girl dying in a local brothel.
Of course, we are not surprised by this disgusting news because the Scriptures teach that sin is everywhere and that the devil is busy at work all over the world. However, many Southerners (and I say this as an Atlanta native and Clemson University graduate) like to talk about the South as if it is not the debaucherous region that it has been for centuries. Many forget, for example, that Methodist Circuit Riders were brought to America by the Methodist preacher Francis Asbury in 1771 to address the rampant debaucherous lifestyles of Southerners, and others, preaching the need for repentance and faith.
There has been so much focus on sex slavery and child prostitution in other countries, and rightly so, that many of us have forgotten that Americans do not have a sexual morality that is any more superior than anywhere else in the world, and that sexual immorality is a consistent theme in every region and neighborhood in America.
The saddest part of these news stories is not that these Southern cities are being exposed more and more as places where young girls, especially immigrant girls, are not safe, but that sex slavery is so well hidden from the church because clients are often upper-salaried professionals who often have the power to keep these systems quiet. To make matters worse, many Christians do not consider sex slavery a "pro-life" issue, so many churches, even in 2008, remain uninvolved in supporting ministries that rescue children from sex slavery and sex trafficking in the United States and abroad. Why isn't sex slavery discussed on "right-to-life Sunday" in most churches?
If Christians do not fight for these children enslaved in our own towns and abroad, who else has the moral imperative to do so?