Tag Archives: sex trafficking

Hope & Ashes

The last of the girls I worked with in India graduated from the program today. She is going to be working with Freedom Firm’s jewelry making business, Ruhamah designs, in another city in India. My heart is so happy. I feel like a proud mama. I cried when I found out.

I’ve whole-heartedly missed her and the other girls. There is something about the silliness and life she brought when I was around her, the girl I named Hope* in my blog. It’s really what her name means. The name she chose for herself. She really taught me a lot…

There is redemption. There is hope.

Life is what you make it. Beauty can truly come from ashes.

(Hope* taking a break after helping with horse therapy)

Check out Ruhamah’s latest designs here: http://www.ruhamah.in/


Hi friends,
It’s been a while. I wanted to let all of you central valley dwellers know about something extremely exciting that is going on in Fresno this week! It’s called Freedom Week- something that I have been hoping and praying for the past year or so especially. It’s a week dedicated to the awareness and desired end of sex trafficking here in the central valley. Yes, it even happens here.  I am proud of Fresno and the organizations involved in this project to be unafraid of talking about this issue and acting on it. This is an excellent opportunity to become more educated on sex trafficking and forced prostitution. The events include awareness meetings, prayer, workshops, film screenings, and music and art advocacy. I was able to see one of the documentaries, “Nefarious,” this past October and am excited for its use here. It’s a harsh reality… but it is a reality with hope. I would like to challenge those of you who have had a desire to know and do more regarding this worldwide issue to attend at least one event. What an exciting thing to be able to be a part of here in our city!


Check out the schedule for the week here:


Sakaal Times article

Sakaal Times Pune has an article where sex trafficking in India is discussed and Freedom Firm, the organization I volunteered with in India, is highlighted.

Read the article here: http://epaper.sakaaltimes.com/SakaalTimes/16Jul2011/Normal/page6.htm

The elephant in the room

So, I may or may not be writing a Children’s book. {insert laughter} Never, ever, would I have imagined myself writing any kind of book. But, here I am. What am I writing about? What’s my vision? Well, I am writing a story about sex trafficking to raise awareness among kids (and parents). I’m sure you are thinking… hmm, interesting topic for a children’s book… how will that work? Well, it will be metaphorical and symbolic above all and meant to provoke thought, hope, and action.

It all started with elephants. I noticed images of elephants seemed to be popping up everywhere and then I was reminded of the phrase “an elephant never forgets” via a song and my mind immediately went to the girls I spend time with in India and how they, and all of the children and women like them around the world cannot be forgotten. So, the main character in the story will undoubtedly be an elephant. Elephants are really interesting to me- they’re known to be very intelligent, but yet they are such unsuspecting funny looking creatures. It makes me think of kids and how so often they are overlooked and not given the credit they are due for their wisdom and creative minds.

Then I had more ideas here and there and reminders of some prophecies over my life that were given last year. Some of which at the time I really wasn’t sure about their accuracy or what they meant. One was from a friend of my sister’s who told me she saw an image of me writing something… and that something seemed to be children’s books. Even then I laughed it off. This prophecy as well as some others that (now) seem to be related to this book writing were recorded and I have been re-listening to them lately.

It has felt like such a shock wave. So unexpected. And now it seems each day I have ideas for this book… ideas about the story as well as the illustrations (my dream is to have a rescued girl illustrate it!). It feels like this has all come tumbling through thin air, but I know it must be part of the bigger picture of what God has for my life and my part in the end of the global sex trade.

I have to say- all of the encouragement and positive feedback I’ve had from my blog has given me a sense of hope and confidence that I can do this. Even announcing it on my blog points to my faith hanging on a tree’s limb. Sex trafficking and it’s surrounding issues have been such an elephant in the room of our world until recently. Thank you to all my readers and supporters who haven’t been afraid to see this HUGE elephant!

Here goes nothing! (or here goes something!)

“There is power in the name of Jesus… to break every chain”

A couple months ago I listened to a message by Kris Vallotton, and he said something so simple, yet new to my ears: “Fear is faith in the wrong guy.” Ha. Fear is the opposite of faith. Of course! This can be related to so much in life. After a conversation on this topic with my best friend last night, I pondered this more. I thought about how I’ve had several people ask me the same question in reference to me going to India, one that is an honest and a valid one,

“Are you scared?”

Most of the time I respond with saying that I am nervous about some things, but overall I’m just excited. Of course no one wants to go with fear, but I have decided that more than anything I don’t because it is partnering with something I don’t believe in. Fear says a giant such as sex trafficking can’t be taken down, faith says it can. We need to pursue truth, and defeat the lies because the truth is God wants to see people set free. Physical, emotional, spiritual freedom…. God doesn’t want just one for us. We’re meant to be free… entirely free. Free of bondage- that includes fear!  I am going to India because I want to see women and children free of sexual slavery, I believe it can happen… AND I want that same sort of freedom Jesus gives in every aspect of my life.

I had $100 more come in, so I’m now at $2,800! God is so good. I appreciate those of you who have partnered with me in God’s desire to see the chains broken. I would like to leave you with a song from an album that I recently got off itunes… one that is inspired by “Nefarious,” a documentary on the sex trade. You can check out the album here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/hold-on-music-inspired-by/id409382758?ign-mpt=uo%3D4

“Standing Strong”

I bought my flight today and cannot contain my excitement! My flight was right about what I budgeted for and I don’t have any extra long layovers, praise the Lord! I leave January 5 for India and return April 4. Here is a reminder for why and whom I am going… to love on girls just like Sarisu*…

September 2010
“So many stories of rescued girls, brothel keepers convicted, and girls loved all the way to recovery make us pause, breathe deep, and say thank you for movement, for growth, for change. Sarisu’s* is one such story provoking that need to pause with gratitude.
She joined the Ooty “Standing Strong” program ten months ago after her rescue by a sister NGO and original placement in a Mumbai government home. From the beginning she was a shy girl who stood on the edges. She responded well to a hug or a conversation, but did not quite know what to do with that attention. Post-hug she would slink back to the edges again and watch.
But as so often happens, and as is the design of the program, she slowly came out of her shell and even tried “assertiveness” on for size. It was awkward to watch, but beautiful all the same.
Nearly from the beginning, Sarisu’s family wanted to visit her in Ooty, in the name of strongly encouraging her to consent to an arranged marriage. For the first several months we were firm, telling them to wait until she had been in the program longer. They agreed, but finally the time came when it actually became healthier for her to see them and face their marriage intentions head on.
The Freedom Firm staff had been encouraging Sarisu to do what she felt best. We told her not to let her family force her to do what she did not want to do, but also to consider what they had to say. We told her to consider trusting God, that he would provide the right husband at the right time for her.
Finally the day arrived. Sarisu’s father arrived in Ooty and we gave them some overdue time together. As her father gently but strongly told her to consider marriage, she replied without the gentleness but with equal strength, “No, I don’t want to get married. I want to stay here. They love me here.” Those were her words. She was bold. She was strong. She had no fear. And that surprised us. She defied her father’s expectations; not an easy thing in a culture where the father’s word is the final word. She displayed the confidence that she could make her own choice. Seeing these qualities surface was beautiful to watch. They were qualities that all too often gave way to her lack of self-esteem.
After that, her father took us aside, explaining that she absolutely needed to come with him, that their family needed for her to get married. We explained patiently that she should not be forced, reminding him that his other daughter committed suicide because of a bad life situation, and that we fully believe God would provide the right person for her. One staff even said, “If your daughter is not happy, will you be happy?”
We took Sarisu’s father to the education building, to the place where she makes jewelry, and to eat lunch where she sits each day for her afternoon meal. After taking all this in, after seeing all that his daughter was learning, after seeing how happy she was with Freedom Firm, Sarisu’s father changed his tone completely. He asked us to teach her computer as well. He saw the beautiful jewelry she had learned to make and was awed by his daughter’s new talent.
While eating lunch, tears filled her father’s eyes; Sarisu’s as well. We are not entirely sure why, but we have a sense that it’s because he loves his daughter and is thankful she is now well looked after. As he left that day, he turned to Sarisu and told her directly to listen to us and to obey. They were strong words, but night and day different than his strong admonition earlier that day. Not only had she changed over months of work and love, but he had as well over a short ten hour visit.”


* Name changed

I love the updates Freedom Firm has on their website. It’s an excellent way to understand in a more tangible way what there is to pray for and rejoice over.

read one girl’s story of being trafficked: http://www.freedom.firm.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=164&Itemid=181

6 rescued, read the story: http://www.freedom.firm.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=139:rescuing-six-minors-in-pune&catid=48:i-witness-archive&Itemid=178


If you want to know more about sex trafficking and are unsure of where to start– this is the post for you! Here is a list of some of the varied resources that exist which I have found to be the most insightful for understanding sex trafficking. Again, due to the nature of this topic I encourage caution. Some of these resources are more intense than others and therefore I would not recommend (books, films) for under the age of 14.


Half the Sky

by Nicolas Kristof & Sheryl Wudunn.
“Half the Sky lays out an agenda for the world’s women and three major abuses: sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence including honor killings and mass rape; maternal mortality, which needlessly claims one woman a minute. We know there are many worthy causes competing for attention in the world. We focus on this one because this kind of oppression feels transcendent – and so does the opportunity. Outsiders can truly make a difference.” – http://www.halftheskymovement.org/


by Patricia Mccormick
“As this heartbreaking story opens, 13-year-old Lakshmi lives an ordinary life in Nepal, going to school and thinking of the boy she is to marry. Then her gambling-addicted stepfather sells her into prostitution in India… Part of McCormicks research for this novel involved interviewing women in Nepal and India, and her depth of detail makes the characters believable and their misery palpable. This important book was written in their honor.” –Alexa Sandmann, Kent State University, OH


Human Trafficking (TV mini-series)

“Human Trafficking is a television mini-series about an agent going undercover to stop an organization from trafficking people and shows the struggles of three trafficked women.” -wikipedia.com watch the trailer here: http://www.flixster.com/movie/human-trafficking-videos


“In Cambodia, Holly, a 12 year old Vietnamese girl, encounters Patrick, an American stolen artifacts dealer. The story follows their strong connection and her unrelenting efforts to escape her fate.” -imbd.com watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nl_AtgGNDzA

Born into Brothels (documentary)

“Born into Brothels, by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski, is the winner of the 77th annual Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. A tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, Born into Brothels is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in the red light district of Calcutta, where their mothers work as prostitutes. Zana Briski, a New York-based photographer, gives each of the children a camera and teaches them to look at the world with new eyes.” -kids-with- cameras.org watch the trailer here: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi2965045529/

In addition to the links on the right hand side of my page that are helpful, this blog tackles multiple issues connected with trafficking — http://humantrafficking.change.org/


I can’t even begin to list all the non-profits and organizations I have come across in my search both in the U.S. and abroad. Following Freedom Firm, there are two organizations that have stood out to me more than the others…

Freedom Firm

The non-profit I will be volunteering with has real life stories of rescue and justice on their site. check out the exciting news here: http://www.freedom.firm.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=47&Itemid=177

Project Rescue

Christian-based organization that helps bring rescue and restoration in India as well. http://www.projectrescue.com/

Restore NYC

Christian-based non-profit based in New York City that’s goal is to be able to provide aftercare for victims in the city. http://www.restorenyc.org/

What is Sex Trafficking?

It can become overwhelming to understand something so huge as sex trafficking. There is some topic specific language that can make it even more difficult at times. I will do my best to be clear in describing sex trafficking leaving out the details. Sex trafficking can occur in a variation of ways and circumstances, but here I will be primarily describing the most common situations in India. Due to the nature of this topic, please approach this with caution.

When first defining sex trafficking, it is important to address human trafficking. Sex trafficking essentially fits under the umbrella of human trafficking, just more specific. (Urban dictionary’s definition of human trafficking:http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=human%20trafficking). Usually when someone is trafficked (usually girls or young women, but sometimes boys too) they are sold, kidnapped, and/or promised a job. These people may be someone they trust such as a family member or friend, or a seemingly friendly stranger who offers to “help.” Often times victims are drugged by something being put in their tea and then sold to a brothel. Brothels are where most of those trafficked end up; being sold and often told they need to repay “debt” before they can go home. This is a lie meant to put fear into place. They are also frequently threatened by their brothel keepers or madams (women in charge) that their families will be killed if they try to escape. In some extreme (but not rare) cases girls and women are beaten and locked in their rooms. At these brothels they are forced to prostitute themselves typically seeing 20 or more “customers” a day without receiving any of the “profit.” The customers are local men or tourists. CNN reported of a story earlier this year of a Nepalese woman trafficked across India’s boarders and sold to a brothel by a member of her extended family, “Geeta was 9 when she began wearing makeup, staying up until 2 a.m. and having sex with as many as 60 men a day.” Geeta was later rescued at the age of 14.

In addition to the horrible mental and physical abuse, there are other things that may be left unconsidered. Some brothels insist they practice “safe sex,” but the reality shows most do not. Many girls and women end up with sexually transmitted diseases and/or pregnant. When pregnancy occurs,  if the child born is female she is almost certain to grow up in the brothel with the intent of being raised to be a prostitute as well. Women and girls are also commonly drugged if they are being “difficult.” This can make leaving many times more difficult when addiction occurs.

If those who survive sex trafficking are able to get out, they have a challenging road ahead of them. The first step is getting out—escaping or being rescued. The physical and psychological affects are enormous. Due to the cultural norms women are assumed to marry, but with a past such as this they may not be easily accepted. They may not be able to find their families and will need a way of supporting themselves. It is important for these girls and women to get to a point where they can have a normal life. Yet, the most crucial thing is that they reach a place of healing: mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

The last thing I would like to mention here is that of the legal side. It has only been in very recent years that sex trafficking has been recognized for what it is… modern day slavery. The United States and other countries as well are finally deciding to take a stand. Most countries do not put a firm hand on justice for these victims. If justice becomes common practice it will be the next step in fighting this issue.

Why Sex Trafficking? Why India?

Hello friends, 

I would like to share some exciting news: I am going to be volunteering for three months (January-March 2011) with Freedom Firm, an organization that seeks to end sex trafficking… in India. For about four years I have had a growing interest in sex trafficking. The more I have learned, the more I have had a desire to do something about this world-wide issue, particularly in India. 200 women and girls enter the sex trade in India every day, 160 of whom do so under coercion [United Nations Centre for Development and Population Activities]. Currently, India is considered by many to be the epicenter of the sex trafficking industry.

I have spent much time researching organizations that combat sex trafficking. Upon looking into Freedom Firm, I was thrilled to find exactly the kind of organization I hoped to be a part of. Freedom Firm is a Christian based organization involved in three main areas: rescuing victims of sex trafficking, the restoration of these victims (or as I like to call them, survivors), and justice through prosecuting the brothel keepers responsible. Most importantly, their main focus is an 18 month aftercare program and home for the rehabilitation of rescued women and girls. In addition to these three main aspects, they also tutor in the English language and Math as well as teach jewelry making as a form of income. I will be primarily volunteering with the aftercare program in Ooty, Tamil Nadu in South India, working very closely with the young women there.

The cost of living in India is mind-bogglingly low to a Westerner, however I am fully responsible for my own finances. It will be an estimated $3,000 for all of my costs, half of which is airfare. I have been blessed enough to have a job for the past 15 months working as a nanny for a three year old little girl, and plan to cover some costs myself. Still, I would like to minimally reach my goal of financial support to cover my airfare (approximately $1,500).

“Free” is my favorite word in the English language because of a deep personal meaning, yet as human beings I believe it should mean something to all of us. If you take anything from this letter, please let it not be purely of sadness towards the issue of sex trafficking. Instead, let it be inspiration. Be inspired to get educated and share with others the reality of this issue. Be inspired to do something about it, to pray, and if you are inspired to support me financially, I will greatly appreciate it.

Thank you,

Dori Richardson

* Checks may be made out to me with the subject line “India” and sent to:
Dori Richardson
8511 N. Rio Linda
Fresno, CA. 93711

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)

Freedom Firm

Here is an insightful video about sex trafficking and what Freedom Firm is all about:


“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…”

Isaiah 61:1 b