A glimpse into #KALAH2015 through photos and testimonials.
We were awakened, educated, stirred and activated for justice! God has poured out a new boldness, courage and wisdom for this generation of justice warriors to arise and take their place in the fight against injustice. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of our 2nd annual Kalah Conference! See you next year!
* If you’d like to purchase audio recordings of the sessions by Benjamin Nolot, Sharon Ngai, Annie Lobert from the Kalah conference, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
“The KALAH Conference was amazing! The speakers were insightful and engaging, and the performances were powerful! It’s very encouraging to learn about the work Justice Speaks is doing to rescue and support trafficked victims. For me personally, the conference dispelled the misconception that the sex trade is a women’s issue. I discovered that at the root of this issue are the men who make up the demand. I now realize that, as men, we have equal responsibility to bring this injustice to an end” – Clifton Anderson
“This weekend at #kalah2015 conference gripped my heart and brought greater clarity for me and my calling for justice. It’s more than fighting against human trafficking but it’s going back to the roots of this issue and restoring back the identity and purpose of men and women. It is speaking up for all the women that’s been groomed to believe since their adolescent years that their sexuality is what empowers them. It’s redeeming the times that we have believed the lies that media and culture have fed us about who we are & what we have to offer. The lie that our worth & value is found in our body parts and what we can offer men sexually. Beauty far exceeds what this society has groomed us to believe and my prayer is that women would take hold of this truth! Banjamin Nolot’s message on justice and righteousness needs to be heard in our generation today! It’s vital for us to understand where sex trafficking stems from. Now that my eyes have been awakened to the deeper truth, I am more stirred up speak up for women and young girls! I promise to stand up for true beauty and empowerment, purity and righteousness until femininity is restored back to what God has originally intended and the exploitation of women comes to an end.” – Leah Joanino
“Kalah 2015!! Was an unforgettable event!! The presence of The Lord was so evident and I truly believe each and every person from the speakers, worship team, singers, dancers, volunteers, vendors, attendees, to us the Kalah planning team, were all touched by God in huge ways!!! God healed, God broke chains, God stirred hearts, God awakened dreams, God encouraged, God called, God set apart, God equipped, God gave divine wisdom and God gave us the VICTORY!! We will see an END!! We will together demolish and destroy Human trafficking from its very roots!! We can no longer sit back and allow evil to prevail!! God is good! Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 – Norma Hernandez
“When you are a part of the planning and execution an event, you are constantly in work mode never expecting to be on the receiving end but #Kalah2015 for me was a two part journey. I was able to utilize what I have to join the conversation and bring awareness to a prevalent issue and I was also able to receive the healing, strategy and wisdom that I needed to continue. As a man, I was encouraged and strengthened in my male identity and how it relates. I have believed and still believe that there is no greater sign of redemption than for men to rise up and say “No more, not on my watch.” When we, as men, join in this movement, not only will there be healing and vindication for the women that have been wronged but as well as a major cut in the demand of sexual slavery.” – Jordan Black
Fifty Shades of Black and White: Five Alarming Concerns
Written by Benjamin Nolot on February 19th, 2015
In an age when sexual violence against women around the globe is at epidemic proportions and the leading cause of injury to women is violence at the hands of men, Hollywood has decided to gift us with the film adaptation of E L James’ absurdly popular book Fifty Shades of Grey. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson glamorizes the film, released to coincide with Valentine’s Day, as a “powerful and romantic love story.” In reality, Fifty Shades of Grey is nothing short of a horror story about a powerful and sadistic male perpetrator who preys on Anastasia Steele, a young, naïve, and virginal college girl. And though the screenplay is not worth the roll of toilet paper it was written on, moviegoers from around the world flocked to theaters, spending over 260 million dollars to see the film on its opening weekend. I have five primary concerns about this movie and its apparent mainstream appeal.
1. The story romanticizes sadistic perpetrators.
The male protagonist, Christian Grey, is the textbook profile of a sadistic perpetrator: possessive, hyper-controlling, bullish, volatile, caustic, broodingly jealous, narcissistic, manipulative, and fixated on inflicting pain, humiliation, and degradation on another human being. The abuse portrayed in Fifty Shades of Grey is not an imagined scenario that only plays out on the pages of a book or in the frames of a feature film. Instead, it is a real and measurable offense that permeates our world. In an analysis of the book’s content published in the academic Journal of Women’s Health, researchers systematically analyzed the actual content to “elucidate patterns consistent with national definitions of intimate partner violence and associated reactions known to occur in abused women.” Consistent with the Centers for Disease Control’s definitions of intimate partner violence, emotional abuse was present in nearly every interaction and included stalking, intimidation, isolation, and humiliation; all strategies that collectively served to control Anastasia. Sexual violence, the use of alcohol to promote compliance, and intimidation were also pervasive. Throughout the course of the story, Anastasia experienced a range of reactions commonly reported by abused women, including perceived threats, difficulty managing stress, yearning, altered identity, disempowerment, and entrapment.
Despite this, the author excuses—even justifies—Grey’s exploitative behavior because “he is impossibly good in bed.” Sadly, actress Dakota Johnson, who plays Anastasia, has referred to Grey as a “hero character.” It is interesting that even Jamie Dornan, who plays Grey, recognizes the sordid nature of the character he portrays. “[T]here were times when Dakota was not wearing much, and I had to do stuff to her that I’d never choose to do to a woman,” said Dornan. “[I’ve] played a couple of sick, sick dudes, serial killers…and characters who don’t treat women the way society deems appropriate. [Still,] Christian was a massive challenge.” Despite such admissions and the fact that Grey is an abusive manipulator, the author and screenwriters spin his actions in such a way as to sanitize and glorify his sexual deviance and exploitation of Anastasia.
2. The story reinforces and perpetuates a cultural narrative that renders women as a subjugated class of sexual objects that men use and consume.
Fifty Shades of Grey is merely an amplification of a toxic cultural narrative in which women exist as objects of male desire whose sole purpose is to be consumed by dominant, aggressive, and hyper-“masculine” men. The Fifty Shades of Grey directive to women is no secret as the film’s bold tagline encourages women to “lose control.” Tragically, in this narrative and in real-life scenarios all around the globe, countless women and girls are losing control as victims of rape and exploitation every day.
3. The story redefines love by replacing respect and compassion with abuse and narcissistic pleasure-seeking.
This film has been marketed by promoters as “a fairy-tale love story.” But I have to ask, “Whose fairy tale is this? And where does love appear anywhere in this picture?” Rather than expressing love through kindness or an empathetic interest in helping Anastasia achieve her potential as a woman, Grey treats her as nothing more than a sexual conquest driven by his own narcissism. The film justifies Grey’s abusive and obsessive behavior—including his illegal intrusion into a woman’s apartment—as justifiable acts of love rather than warning signs of a dangerous, exploitive relationship.
4. The story mainstreams and normalizes BDSM.
Many people assume that the genre of sex called Bondage & Discipline Sadomasochism (BDSM) and glamorized byFifty Shades of Grey is only about the harmless use of blindfolds, whips, and handcuffs to spice things up a bit. But I think this narrow view is a mistake. . .and a danger. Even a brief glimpse into the world of BDSM demonstrates a far deeper, more sinister significance. As part of my research regarding human trafficking and the commercial sex trade, I toured Kink Armory multiple times. The things I witnessed at this film studio and epicenter of the BDSM community were disturbing—even traumatizing. These experiences combined with interviews of numerous people immersed in this world have led me to the undeniable conclusion that BDSM is ultimately not about some erotic thrill but about the desecration of humanity. It is alarming that Fifty Shades of Grey is providing a gateway into this dark world of debasement.
While I was at Kink, they boasted of hundreds of sex slaves within their community who are subjected to the worst kinds of abuse. How do they subjugate these sex slaves? Their website boldly explains: “To train these female slaves, master trainers use everything from humiliation, bondage, whipping, caning, and corporal punishment . . . but…the primary means of training female sex slaves is psychology. Consensual domination increases each woman’s submission, remolding her mind and attitude until she is an obedient sex slave.” The site then emphasizes, “REAL SLAVE TRAINING, NOT STAGED.”
Public shaming is another way that Kink dominates their victims. Their website describes the process: “Girls are stripped naked and tied up in bondage on city streets and then f***** for everyone to see…[they] are humiliated in public…for everyone to see. Women become sex slaves to be used by groups of men and are turned into gangbang and bukkake cumsluts.” I’ll never forget sitting across from Cameron Bay, a former “actress” in the porn industry, as she recounted the horror of enduring such an experience at Kink. In Bay’s case, she was brutalized to the point of needing surgery to recover.
The BDSM community talks a great deal about “consent,” “trust,” and “play”—all terms carefully and intentionally crafted in order to imply some code of ethics, and more significantly, a legal construct in which one person can sexually assault another person. How this “consent” is achieved is another matter of scrutiny that I won’t go into here. Typically, the defense from those promoting and profiting from BDSM relates to the concept of consent of the victim. This defense fails to take into account the international law regarding torture. Instead, international law states that torture is illegal, regardless of consent. In simple terms, this means that BDSM is a human rights violation. Specifically, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 5 states that, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”1 Period.
Regardless of the laws and rulings concerning torture, assault, and consent, BDSM is on the rise. Ironically, some members of the BDSM community are speaking out against the exploitative nature of the relationship between theFifty Shades of Grey characters. This should tell us something about the gravity of this so-called love story. Fifty Shades of Grey is not made as a cautionary tale of what to avoid, but as a romantically appealing journey for any unsuspecting young girl. It is a desperately naïve, dangerous, and reckless presentation of “romance” that lacks any conscience whatsoever and will sadly lead many people into the debased world of BDSM. Irrespective of concerns surrounding the film, Shades of Grey has mainstreamed BDSM; this is a disturbing development in a world already teeming with actual sex slaves and where sexual violence against women has reached epidemic proportions.
5. The entertainment industry and our society in general fail to acknowledge the real harm done to real women as a result of the consumption of sexually violent media like Fifty Shades of Grey.
Make no mistake. There is a tangible consequence that results from the dissemination and consumption of sexually violent media. We must recognize and take inventory of the harm that these so called “fantasies” are inflicting on real women in real time. In order to appreciate the depths of this concern, it is critically important to understand the way that sexually violent media changes societal norms. Studies have shown that there is a powerful and measurable phenomenon called the “media effect” which occurs when media influences our cultural norms and preferences.
Research done over the past 30 years has demonstrated that viewing violent sexual content has the effect of significantly changing attitudes of both men and women toward sexual violence, including rape. In experimental studies, after viewing violent sexual media where women were victimized, men reported that they thought women deserved the treatment (even rape), secretly desired it, and enjoyed it. Women who viewed violent sexual content began to believe that they should accept that behavior as normal, desire it, and enjoy it—or at least act like they do.
One of the most important considerations in any conversation about Fifty Shades of Grey should be the ability of films like this to alter attitudes about the harmful effects of exploitation and rape. Media produces “permission giving beliefs” that influence people—both perpetrators and victims—into believing that sexual violence is permissible. This means that because of the widespread production, dissemination, and consumption of sexually violent media, real women are being acted out against by real men, and both are seeing it as normal, deserved, and desirable.
Furthermore, the detrimental effects of sexually violent media and its ability to normalize abuse goes beyond the confines of “romantic” relationships, like the falsely-labeled romance in Fifty Shades of Grey. Sexually violent media is so ubiquitous in today’s culture that it actually changes the sexual templates of men (and women), meaning that it changes what kind of sex they desire. Women who are victims of prostitution almost unanimously report that violent pornography influences the abusive behaviors of pimps and sex buyers. Sex buyers begin to desire the kind of sex they see, and they demand it from trafficked, exploited, and prostituted women. When a sex buyer’s wife doesn’t want to be tied up, flogged, and sexually tortured, he will often fulfill his media-inspired desire with the women he purchases who are not allowed to refuse. Prostituted and trafficked women suffer traumatic brain injuries at rates as high as torture survivors; they are often burned with cigarettes, slashed with razor blades, anally and vaginally raped, tied up, punched, kicked, and regularly murdered. Many of these violent behaviors are often portrayed through violent media.
As I write this, Fifty Shades of Grey has recently broken box office records on a weekend that is traditionally supposed to be about love. My heart is heavy for the women and children whose experiences with sexual abuse are being undermined by this production. As a filmmaker, I care about the stories we tell in our culture through film and other forms of media. These stories shape our ideas and values. It is up to us to raise our voices and restore the conscience of our society and to reclaim our dignity from those who seek to steal it. We must take a stand and tell the truth about the impact of sexually violent films on our culture.
An inside look at our Valentine’s Strip Club Outreach, by Joy Farrington.
What does love look like? It’s a really good question and produces a lot of different answers depending on who you ask and when you ask them. Valentines Day is this yearly celebration of love that gives us all an opportunity to see how everyone responds to this, both individually and corporately.
February 14th, 2015 fell on a Saturday, coinciding with the American Presidents Day holiday weekend. It was also the premier weekend for a new Hollywood blockbuster, “Fifty Shades of Grey”, marketed as a date night movie and not just another chick flick. The billboards masterfully attract an audience with the word, ‘curious?’, pasted next to an image of a couple in black and white, oozing with seductiveness. In this opening weekend, “Fifty Shades of Grey” grossed in $81.7 million becoming the second-biggest February release behind “The Passion of the Christ”. I guess a lot of people were curious.
On this same Saturday night, I spent the majority of my evening squeezed into a van with 18 other women driving around the Hollywood area and only stopping when we found a strip club. I was struck by the juxtaposition of these two worlds as I gazed out of the window and saw the movie billboard before me, right next to the flashing lights of a bar offering nude girls for the right price. Both of these images were advertisements to stir up curiosity, one portrayed as more innocent and harmless, the other daring and costly. I’m not about to comment further on this movie right now but I do believe that curiosity is a dangerous thing to awaken when coming from an impure source and it was definitely being aroused in many this weekend. We can’t put a price on love and intimacy, yet over and over again the sex industry tries to do so by selling physical gratification to whoever they can secure attention from. Valentines Day to many of us is an excuse for romance, special treatment and telling those near and dear that we love them; for the sex industry it is one of their most profitable evenings. One bar that we visited on Saturday night was so busy that there was a line weaving its way around the side of the building of punters waiting eagerly to be allowed in. A couple of establishments told us they were too busy to even let us in to see their girls and give them the gifts that we had so lovingly prepared.
I stood to one side of the club’s main room, heavy beats ensuring everyone’s senses were completely captured as a beautiful young woman went through the paces of her routine on the stage. Chairs positioned around the podium were occupied by mainly young men as a soiree of other dancers milled about them or sat at the bar. A few of our team members were chatting and praying with girls after having passed out our supply of little pink gift bags. Seemingly out of nowhere, a face full of smiles came bouncing toward me and the two other women that I was stood with. In one hand she held a blue lollipop as she eagerly engaged in conversation with us, enveloping us in hugs one by one as she asked why we were visiting them in a strip bar and not spending the evening with our husbands. “Because we want you to know that you are loved on Valentines Day”, came my immediate response. Her eyes, carefully painted with black eyeliner began to glisten with tears, “I am so glad you’re here, I was having a bad day. I don’t want to be here tonight, I want to be with my husband.”
We stood talking with her for a few minutes and then asked her if we could pray for anything for her. She grabbed on to this invitation like a lifeline, “Yes please! I tell everyone here that they should get prayer from you guys! Please pray for me and my 10 year old son, and my husband too, he doesn’t know what I do.” We flanked her on both sides, Molly on one, myself on the other, strategically turning our backs on the rest of the room and momentarily blocking out the environment that we were stood in the midst of. There we prayed. Molly finished praying and rather than our new friend being satisfied with this one prayer, she exclaimed, “Wait, you haven’t prayed for my husband yet, you need to pray for him.” We closed our eyes again and I prayed to our dear Father in Heaven for this fragile couple and the beautiful covenant that they had made to each other. It felt like a very poignant moment to me, stood on Valentine’s night in the entryway to one of Hollywood’s more well-known strip bars, with one of the many girls dancing on stages that night, praying for protection over marriage.
Our prayers ended and with many words of thanks on her lips, we parted ways with our new friend and re-entered the partying streets of Hollywood. This was one little encounter of many that we had during our four hours of driving around the Los Angeles area. One little moment of what love can look like.
Joy Farrington is the authored “Broken by Beauty: A journey from purity to restoration and hope”
Our first stop was at the Prevention Camp in Pak Chong, Korat in Northern Thailand where we were greeted by 150 students ages 7-14. Dressed in bright colored uniforms according to which school they belong to, they sat in perfect lines on the floor of a small open air auditorium – wide eyed and curiously observing us from head to toe. I would catch their stare and smile at them but they shyly would look away. We sat watching one of their teachers joyfully lead them into their opening assembly. After a few introductions and a couple songs sung in Thai, the children were released by the faculty into their classrooms. This is where we would meet them and spend the entire day teaching them dance, arts & crafts, sports, music – and most importantly, share with them the truth about the sex industry in Pattaya and as the Lord leads, share our testimonies and preach the gospel of Jesus.
My co-teacher, Joy Jung and I taught all 150 students a dance to Hillsong’s “Alive” – A dance about God’s love and freedom! They exploded with joy each round we did it. As we spent time going over the dance with them, sweat dripping down our faces and our muscles growing a little more sore each round, seeing these children literally come “alive” is what refueled us. They danced with all their might. These are children that don’t have very much and rarely do they have the opportunity to engage in a dance class, therefore, they savored each moment and, so did we. We fell in love with them.
We don’t know the individual stories and backgrounds of these children but we are very aware that most of them come from broken families and have already experienced sexual abuse. This truth made nothing else matter but that these children would experience extravagant love, freedom and joy during our time with them. We are confident that is what what filled our classrooms. We believe that our class did more than just teach them a fun little dance but that it ushered in the presence of God into hearts where freedom, love, and joy may have been robbed.
An important aspect of this camp is the topic of prevention. Sharon talked to the boys in her class about the importance of honoring, respecting and protecting the girls in their lives – commissioning them to be the men that bring change to Thailand. All of the children learned the truth about Pattaya (sex tourism capital) from a woman who actually came out of prostitution and got saved. Now, she is anointed to share a powerful message of prevention. Now that they have been made aware, they vowed to never head down to work there no matter how “promising” it looks. The biggest highlight would be that we all got to share our testimonies and on the last day, pastor Jonathan preached the gospel – 120 hungry hearts accepted Jesus! We couldn’t be happier with our time at this prevention camp. These children marked our hearts. But more importantly, we believe that God marked theirs and that they will never be the same!
written by Leah Joanino
One of the most life changing experiences for me was traveling with Justice Speaks to Thailand. It was when the statistic that we are all familiar with: “27 million enslaved worldwide” became more than just a large number that floated in my head. We easily throw that statistic around but do we really understand the weight of it? Does modern day slavery become more real when we hear it? Personally for me, it was encountering the women and children and seeing them face to face that awakened me to the reality of sex slavery.
We were nearing the end of our stay but there was one last thing we needed to cross off on our list. It was a visit to Walking Street in the city of Pattaya – the sex tourism capital of the world. Our mission was to do a prayer walk all throughout this street proclaiming the name of Jesus wherever we stepped! Walking Street is a two-mile stretch filled with nightclubs and bars – and these are not just any bar or nightclub but they are also brothels where young women are available to be purchased for sex. The sex services from these bars is not something that is concealed, rather, it’s blatantly in your face. In fact, there are workers for these clubs who stand on the street passing out sex “menus.”
The atmosphere is something else. As soon as we entered the street, I didn’t even know where to begin to look because of how hectic it was. Neon lights flashing from every building screaming for your attention. The number of neon lights, however, fail in comparison to how many young women fill the streets. They are either working the streets just waiting to be picked up and/or representing for the clubs they work for. At one point, we came across some European women who stood outside a nightclub called “Russian Cabaret”. These are ones who have been trafficked from their countries into Thailand. I watched these women closely. I waited for a chance to exchange eye contact with them but their eyes were always wandering. I’ll never forget their blank faces. Only God knows what their journey has been up to this point. I probably will never get to hear their stories but the fact of the matter is that they have one. Today they find themselves across the world from their families and friends with a life they no longer can call their own.
We walked further down ‘Walking Street’ and passed by an area that is known for children’s brothels. It was almost midnight when we came across a little girl dancing in a hula hoop, dressed in denim shorts and cowgirl boots with her face covered in make-up.She must have been only four years old. We stood by watching her in bewilderment.
Some of us even breaking down in tears. We all knew there was something deeper going on beyond a cute little girl charmingly putting on a show. At her age, she should have been asleep in bed hours ago. Instead, she dances at midnight in the red light district dressed in minimal clothing. The thought of this little girl being sold for sex is heartbreaking. After talking with sources, we found out that this is exactly what is happening and that the handler is standing nearby ready to negotiate prices with potential clients.
The harsh reality is that child prostitution has become rampant here. People travel from all over the world to this region of Thailand because they are well aware that sex with children is highly accessible. I remember feeling like vomiting as we walked past the buildings where this is all taking place. The filthiness of these buildings did not even compare to the spiritual darkness I was sensing.
As I write about the darkness we encountered in Thailand, it’s beginning to hit me emotionally all over again and it might be the same for you. But I want to tell you, while also reminding myself, that the story doesn’t end there. I am here to tell you about how much God is doing in Thailand. The Lord’s hand is working and in the midst of all of this darkness, his light shines brighter. In the same area where child sex trafficking activity is happening, God has given us the Bridge Children’s Center. The Bridge is a safe haven for children to come in and experience community, healing and restoration. We already have about 30 children who come regularly to the Bridge and 11 of them have accepted Jesus. (Photo below)
Another amazing testimony of the Lord’s power and love is when we were given a chance to play music at one of the bars in Pattaya. That alone is a miracle in itself. As we released the presence of the Lord through worship and dance, we saw his love and joy fill the room. One of the ladies working at the bar was overwhelmed by the tangible presence of God. By the end of the night, she accepted Jesus into her heart. Isn’t God so amazing? This is what makes it so worth it. I can’t forget to mention that over 100 children came to know Jesus during our prevention camp in the rural villages of Korat. These are children that are high at risk of being trafficked – some of them have already gone through sexual abuse. They may have never even heard of the name of Jesus before but now the seeds have been planted! We are believing for great things for these children – that they would cause a massive revival in their entire region!
I can now put faces to the overwhelming statistic “27 million slaves worldwide” which makes the issue that much more real to me. But as I think back to these faces that we encountered, I remain hopeful. I am confident that the Lord’s hand is upon them! Yes there are 27 million enslaved but God is doing something so mighty and beautiful. One by one, he is encountering them. One by one he is sending laborers to be his ambassadors of love. Let’s celebrate what the Lord is doing and be available for him to use us! Together we can see the 27 million set free!
God answers prayer!
On April 11th and 12th, Justice Speaks hosted a conference at the University of Southern California (USC) focused on combating human trafficking. We named our conference Kalah which in Hebrew means: to end, to finish, to demolish, to destroy. There are various ways we all can utilize our giftedness & talents to contribute in the ending of human trafficking- film, media, creative arts, writing etc. We need to utilize these talents to do what we can to help. One powerful way we can ALL contribute is Prayer- the least talked about, but our most powerful gift. We ended the last night of our conference teaching on prayer as our greatest answer to destroying & demolishing the structures of human trafficking. We prayed for God to expose and break the back of sex-trafficking in our region.
We received word after our Kalah Conference was over that on that same evening when we prayed, the Los Angeles Sheriff caught and arrested a “king pimp” just miles from USC! He was the third pimp to be arrested in what they call the “Trio” Compton Division Pimps. Authorities say their human trafficking ring extended throughout Los Angeles and other western states. These were not small pimps, but high-level pimps who ruled the region and pulled in millions of dollars through the girls they enslaved.
I don’t believe in coincidence or chance. The prayers we prayed at Kalah literally brought down a notorious pimp just miles away from our meeting. I believe we must do all we can to fight human trafficking through our various gifts & talents. But we cannot forget the greatest weapon and power that we possess in the ending of modern-day slavery- the power of prayer.