Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Operation Underground Railroad


I read an article a couple months ago about Operation Underground Railroad, an amazing organization who rescue children from human trafficking.  This organization first came to my attention because founder, Tim Ballard, is a BYU graduate and the story from BYU's paper appeared in my Facebook feed.  I read the article, then started looking up more about information about Operation Underground Railroad and videos of Tim talking about his organization on talk shows and other media outlets.  Tim spent 12 years working for the CIA doing similar work--saving children from the horrific abuse of trafficking and child pornography.  The problem was that since many of the children they were finding they couldn't actually help because they were outside their jurisdiction.  So Tim split from the CIA and formed his own organization which means he can actually mobilize faster than the government can (shocker) and get to more children, sooner.  In the past year (I believe OUR is only a year old) they have been very successful and have actually completed the most successful sting operations in history saving as many as 55 children at a time.  Because of Tim's background and knowledge they are able to work in conjunction with local governments to make these operations successful.   

Take a minute and read and/or watch some videos on Operation Underground Railroad here:
--The Blaze (video and article--I'm not a Glen Beck person, but it's a good interview)
--The produce of Schindler's List is producing a documentary about Tim and his organization called The Abolitionists which will premier at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.  
--Also, Laurie Holden of The Walking Dead also went undercover with Tim for their operation in Columbia.  Love seeing a celebrity become so directly involved.  

There are a couple reasons I wanted to mention this organization besides the fact they're doing amazing work, rescuing children from unspeakable abuse.  First, I once again wanted to reinforce the link between the porn industry and human trafficking.  Remember my post about porn a few weeks ago?  I talked about the organization Fight the New Drug and one of their main reasons for fighting against porn is that the porn industry has a direct link to human trafficking.  From Fight the New Drug

"Not only do pornographers crop out the severe physical and emotional pain actors experience, but in many cases they also hide the fact that some “performers” aren’t given any choice at all... Obviously, human trafficking is an underground business, making firm statistics hard to come by. But the facts in cases that come to light are chilling. For example, in 2011, two Miami men were found guilty of spending five years luring women into a human trafficking trap. They would advertise modeling roles, then when women came to try out, they would drug them, kidnap them, rape them, videotape the violence, and sell it to pornography stores and businesses across the country."

When viewing porn how do you know if you're watching actors that are participating of their own free will or if you're watching people who are being forced to do the things you're watching?  You don't.  Additionally, when asked who these people are that are coming to traffickers to have sex with children Tim's answer is chilling.  "There's 2 million children being exploited commercially for sex, so what kind of demand would that create?  There are so many people that want this.  It's something, I know, that's hard to understand.  But it's anybody, it's everybody.  It's teachers, doctors, lawyers, people that walk amongst us.  They have this sex addiction.... It stems from porn use and it becomes an addiction that grows out of control and these guys end up wanting to buy 10 year old boys and girls."  

Porn fuels sex trafficking.  Period.  Maybe not all porn and maybe not all porn viewers, but there is a direct link there and we can't pretend there's not.  

The second reason I wanted to talk about this is because of this quote again from Tim Ballard: 

"It's funny, because we all read history and we think, 'Oh I would...have risen up, I would have fought, I would have been ab abolitionist.  And I tell them, 'No, you wouldn't have.  If you would have, you'd be doing that right now.  You know trafficking exists, you've heard of it, but you don't want to look." 

If you want to fight and make a differences go here to find out what you can do.  Obviously we can't all be undercover agents, but we can definitely make a difference.  


Have you heard of Operation Underground Railroad before?  There are a lot of good causes in the world and we have to pick and choose where our time and resources go, but for me I choose disability awareness, and fighting against pornography and human trafficking.  These are recent decisions for me and I'm still not sure how my involvement will look, but these causes really speak to my heart.  What about you?  Do you have specific causes, non-profits, charities that you're working to promote?  What is the level of your involvement and how do you decide what to do?  Do you think you have to pick and choose or do you try to spread awareness or give a donation to anything that comes your way?  Anyone else wanting to join the movement to stop human trafficking?  

5 comments:

  1. I found out about Operation Underground Railroad from a woman in my ward who is friends with Tim Ballard and she was helping launch the non-profit a year or so ago. I have followed them ever since and donated and hope to be able to donate more in the future. I really want to go see the documentary "The Abolitionists" once it's out in theaters. The documentary sounds amazing because it's actual footage from the sting operations they have carried out. Chilling to watch I'm sure. I hope they have continued success in their future. A very great cause indeed and one that makes me cry if I think about too much....

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  2. Anonymous12:36 AM

    This is so disturbing! I really appreciate you bringing this important topic to your blog. I will definitely look into being active in this organization.
    The one group that I have been actively involved in is Silent No More. It is a national organization that allows women who have had an abortion to speak the truth about what abortion does to a person. It helps us give a voice to the children we did not bring into this world. I have attended local colleges to speak honestly about the lasting consequences of abortion. No matter which side you fall on, the truth still needs to be spoken and heard.

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  3. this makes my heart bleed. Definitely want to be a part of this. Thanks for bringing this up.

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  4. Anonymous9:34 AM

    I am deeply grateful to everyone fight against human traffic.

    I think that, in the hope to give a thoughtful and effective, however small, contribution, it's better to be deeply involved with few causes, the ones more close to your heart, rather than getting lost in a thousand things... However we can't forget that the issues in which we are engaged aren't the only ones worth fighting for (sometimes activist of this or that seems oblivious of everything else).

    Liseli

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  5. Anonymous1:07 AM

    Agreed, child trafficking and sexual abuse is utterly vile.

    How do you reconcile this with the fact that Joseph Smith married a 14 year old? (source: https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-kirtland-and-nauvoo?lang=eng)

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