human trafficking

Where are the young? Familiar religion ghosts in WPost report on Maine's aging crisis

Where are the young? Familiar religion ghosts in WPost report on Maine's aging crisis

If you have followed international news about abortion and demographics, you are used to seeing headlines such as the following in the New York Times, focusing on a side effect of China’s infamous one-child policy.

That headline: “Teenage Brides Trafficked to China Reveal Ordeal: ‘Ma, I’ve Been Sold’.”

Selling brides? Here is a crucial piece of background material in this must-read piece. Some government policies, you see, have unintended side effects.

China’s “one child” policy has been praised by its leaders for preventing the country’s population from exploding into a Malthusian nightmare. But over 30 years, China was robbed of millions of girls as families used gender-based abortions and other methods to ensure their only child was a boy.

These boys are now men, called bare branches because a shortage of wives could mean death to their family trees. At the height of the gender imbalance in 2004, 121 boys were born in China for every 100 girls, according to Chinese population figures.

Now, it may seem like a stretch, but when I read that Times piece I thought about a stunningly depressing business story that ran the other day in The Washington Post.

This is a story that is packed with religion ghosts — if you pay attention to the ties between religious faith and birth rates that are at replacement level of higher. The headline: “This will be catastrophic’: Maine families face elder boom, worker shortage in preview of nation’s future.

A preview of America’s future? That appears to be the case. Meanwhile, in Maine, this demographic trend is hitting home in a painful way — in facilities that care for the elderly. Here is a key phrase from this article: “There are simply just not enough people to go around.” Here is a key summary of background material:

Last year, Maine crossed a crucial aging milestone: A fifth of its population is older than 65, which meets the definition of “super-aged,” according to the World Bank.

By 2026, Maine will be joined by more than 15 other states, according to Fitch Ratings, including Vermont and New Hampshire, Maine’s neighbors in the Northeast; Montana; Delaware; West Virginia; Wisconsin; and Pennsylvania. More than a dozen more will meet that criterion by 2030.

Across the country, the number of seniors will grow by more than 40 million, approximately doubling between 2015 and 2050, while the population older than 85 will come close to tripling.

Need more information? Later in the story there is this:

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Sexbots, slavery and The Salvation Army: The Daily Mail explains why it doesn't compute

Sexbots, slavery and The Salvation Army: The Daily Mail explains why it doesn't compute

I don't believe Isaac Asimov, the late science fiction author of the I, Robot series, ever imagined this scenario -- the Salvation Army getting involved in a debate about sex with robots.

The Salvation Army has a long tradition of getting involved in debates that link morality, politics and labor. However, in this case we are talking about a whole different kind of work and, to say the least, a different kind of worker -- "sexbots."

Let's turn to a predictable source of information, Britain's Daily Mail -- a populist source of news if there ever was one.

Headlined "Sexbots will encourage sex to be viewed as a ‘commodity’ and could increase objectification of women and children, warns Salvation Army," we read:

Last week, a report about sex robots warned about the 'dark side' of the technology, which could involve issues of rape and paedophilia.
And now The Salvation Army has had its say on the controversial sexbots.
The charity claims that sex robots could 'fuel demand for sex with people', and even lead traffickers to exploit more vulnerable individuals to meet this demand.

Unlike many of the hair-on-fire reports from this newspaper that have a religion angle, this time, the Daily Mail is relatively restrained, even kind, to the Army's viewpoint. (Disclosure: I was a Salvation Army church member, or "soldier," for 17 years before joining the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and retain a high regard for the organization and its people.)

However, there is a missing bit of journalism in the Daily Mail report, and we'll get to that in a moment.

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Weird case of godless former sex slave: Hey Reuters, are you really that afraid of religion!?

Weird case of godless former sex slave: Hey Reuters, are you really that afraid of religion!?

It's impossible to tell Jennifer Kempton's story without mentioning God.

But give Reuters, um, credit for trying.

This week's otherwise riveting profile of Kempton — with the headline "Former sex slave helps women reclaim their branded bodies with new tattoos" — suffers from an obvious, God-sized hole.

This is one of those holy ghosts (click here if you're not familiar with that oft-used GetReligion term) that must be intentional. There's simply no other explanation (more on that in a moment).

But first, the lede from Reuters:

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - After escaping years of sexual slavery, Jennifer Kempton could not look in the mirror without being taken back to her dark, traumatic past.
On her neck was tattooed the name of one of her traffickers along with his gang's crown insignia. Above her groin were the words "Property of Salem" - the name of the former boyfriend who forced her into prostitution nine years ago.
"Slaves have been branded for centuries and it's just evolved into being tattooed. It's happening all over the world," said Kempton who suffered horrific brutality during six years working on the streets of Columbus, Ohio.
Today the tattoo on her neck has been transformed into a large flower "blooming out of the darkness". Three other brandings have been masked with decorative, symbolic motifs.
Two years ago Kempton, now 34, set up a charity called Survivor's Ink to help others who have escaped enslavement get their brandings covered up or removed.
"It was very empowering for me so I wanted to pay forward that liberation to other girls in my area who had been branded like cattle, just like I was," Kempton told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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Hey CNN, God sure would help explain former trafficked orphan's 'journey of hope'

Hey CNN, God sure would help explain former trafficked orphan's 'journey of hope'

Via Twitter, @mrsangrygrandma does a bit of ghostbusting for us, wondering about this new feature from CNN:

@GetReligion CNN mentions the pastor and faith-based org that trafficked boys, but what about whistleblowers' faith?

If you're new to GetReligion, "holy ghosts" are — as our own Terry Mattingly explained at this journalism-focused blog's beginning — those "facts and stories and faces linked to the power of religious faith" that so often fail to show up in mainstream news reports.

Need an example? The piece shared by the reader above is, unfortunately, a classic one.

Let's start at the top:

(CNN) Dr. Given Kachepa strides confidently into his practice, greeting a 17-year-old patient who's come in to have her braces tightened.
"Hello. How are you?"
Life in the United States is quite different now for the 29-year-old Kachepa, compared to how it started as an 11-year-old orphan.
From his office, filled with fading family photos and handicrafts from his native Zambia, he reflects on how he first bought in to the allure of the American Dream.
"I came to the United States without a dollar in my pocket," says Dr. Kachepa. "The only thing I had was hope."

Keep reading, and CNN shares how Kachepa fell victim to a pastor who turned out to be a human trafficker. But eventually, his shattered hope was restored by a loving foster mother:

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