This week was the big week: She has a Name, by Andrew Kooman, played at Scott Block in Red Deer. Seems like I’ve been waiting forever to see this play. Andrew and I first talked about having it come to Red Deer last summer, and I was grateful to be part of a fundraiser for it in November.
And although the play definitely did not disappoint – well-directed, well acted, poignant, moving, stirring – it was very upsetting. It has not stopped bothering me since I saw it Thursday night.
Set in Bangkok, the play tells the story of a young Cambodian girl, trafficked since the age of ten. Yes, it’s theatre. Yes, it’s fiction. But no amount of telling oneself that can erase the knowledge that this drama is a compilation of hundreds – thousands – of true stories. In fact, the play is a “cleaned up” version of the filthy, abhorrent reality of sexual slavery in Thailand and around the world (including Canada).
The thing is… I can’t process it. I can’t wrap my head around the notion that this really happens to children. I can’t fathom that people – people, not subhuman monsters – casually engage in the sexual exploitation of other people, children. CHILDREN. Please, someone, tell me this doesn’t really happen. I don’t want it to be true. I don’t want to know about it. I don’t want to believe it; not for a minute.
And anyway, what can I do about it? I feel so powerless, helpless. The problem is apparently huge. Most people, it seems, deny it, ignore it, minimize it, normalize it or participate in it. Traffickers are subversive, organized and ruthless. They use a combination of psychological manipulation and brute force, and often have law enforcement in their pockets. I don’t understand how human trafficking can even exist, and I certainly can’t conceive of what I can do about it. Can’t I wish it away? I feel sick.
But, if wishes were fishes, there wouldn’t be enough in the sea to make human trafficking be just a bad dream. It’s real, it happens everywhere and it is happening to thousands of children this very minute. I can’t stand it, but it’s true.
I’m just incredibly grateful for organizations like International Justice Mission and Raise Their Voice who work to shine the light on injustice like human trafficking. I can give to them; that’s something I can do. And on April 15th and 16th I’ll attend an event in Red Deer hosted by Raise their Voice to discuss the issue further and talk about what else can be done.
And I can tell you about it and ask you to join me in exposing and decrying this horror. It’s not enough, but it’s what I can do. For now.
A friend of mine is working on sponsorships and logistics to bring She has a Name to Edmonton, so if you missed it in Calgary and Red Deer, you may still have a chance to take it in. But be prepared: you might wish you hadn’t seen it. I wish you would.