By Michael Ashcraft —
While Covid-19 has killed myriads, shut down economies and closed churches around the world, the deadly virus has liberated thousands of exploited sex workers in India, according to a report from Project Rescue.
“What Project Rescue hasn’t been able to do in 24 years of giving itself to rescuing and restoring the lives of thousands of women and their children, this virus has shut down the Red Light Districts in India,” says founder David Grant. “God has given us an opportunity to reach out to these women that we’ve never seen in all these years. In 50 years of being involved in missions, this is the greatest moment we have ever experienced.”
Because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s particularly drastic quarantine, there are no businesses open, no transit, and no industry. With the streets virtually deserted, brothels have no customers and human traffickers are simply releasing their prey rather than have to feed them without them generating any income, Grant says.
“This is the greatest miracle in Project Rescue’s entire history,” he adds.
Other nonprofits report a spike in human enslavement in other parts of the world, as governments repurpose resources usually dedicated to fight traffickers. Perhaps what Project Rescue is reporting is unique to India where stringent restrictions were put in place.
“In the middle of unimaginable crisis comes unprecedented opportunity,” says Rod Loy, director of strategic initiatives. “For the first time in our life time, sex trafficking is shut down. No one is visiting the Red Light District, customers are non-existent, demand is at an all time low. Traffickers are losing money.
“As a result, traffickers are giving women permission to leave and take their children with them,” Rod adds. “In the years of Project Rescue, this has only been a dream. It’s never happened. What the enemy intended for evil, God is using for good. These are the most exciting days in the history of Project Rescue.”
Many of the women who find themselves trapped in the brothel were either kidnapped or sold into the trade. In some cases, they are chained with actual shackles. But often those chains are financial. The women know no other way to make a living for themselves and their children, Rod says.
“We need to be ready to seize the moment of what He wants us to do in the middle of the storm,” Executive Director Beth Grant says.
Project Rescue is issuing a plea for financing to help released sex slaves return to their hometowns to find food. Project Rescue will feed and provide vocational training so that when Covid dies away the sex workers will have a practical alternative to make money other than the life they have lived for years.
Pastor Rajneesh of Jaipur reports 300 women and children rescued from such slavery, so the urgency to meet their need is great or “they’ll be forced to return the Red Light districts so they’re children won’t die,” Rod says. “The window of opportunity is short.”
Covid restrictions are expected to be loosened in July, Rod says, “and when that happens, the evils of sexual slavery will quickly resume. We have to act right now to pull women and children out of darkness and into the marvelous light of Jesus.”
Preemlada (sp?) was only 10 when she was sold into slavery by a poverty-stricken mother in 2011, Rod says. She showed up at the food distribution of Pastor Rajneesh and recognized his wife, whose heart melted at the tragic and love-filled reunion.
“It was a moment that only God could orchestrate,” Rod says.
Similar stories are emerging from other corners where Project Rescue has offices in India. The Springfield, MO-based charity is scattered across Southeast Asia.
Training includes how to raise chicken and cattle, among other farming techniques. Already, Project Rescue has sent $200,000, Rod says. Each woman can be fed and vocationally trained for $1,500 each. Donors are needed.
“What we could have done in 60-70 years” in terms of rescuing ladies from sex trafficking, Pastor Rajneesh says, “we’ll be able to do it in two months time. Every crisis comes with an abundance of opportunities. We want to save these girls but also their girl children forever and ever.”
Michael Ashcraft provides for his household while doing Christian journalism by selling Trump coffee mugs on Amazon.