All posts in “Uncategorized”

The Realities of Rescue || Inside Operation TIGER

Nate Griffin India IMG_2320

There are many complexities that go into rescue work; there are ALWAYS cultural nuances to be aware of, social systems to understand, and survivor interactions that take place during a raid. On April 28th, we broke a rescue announcement where seven girls were freed from forced prostitution in India, and four traffickers were arrested. Here are some details from Operation Tiger.

The particular community in rural India, where the raid took place, has been known to gather together and attack police as a mob. Knowing this, BRAVO Team had to arrange for a police team with sufficient man-power in the event a mob formed. Our team of nationals courageously choose to pursue the raid anyway despite the risk to personal safety.

In a field report, BRAVO Team investigators explained that during the raid, all the survivors were completely shocked to see the police team. From the report: “The girls didn’t know what was going on. They were requesting to be released because they thought the police were arresting them, and not rescuing them. A few of them even wanted to run away. They were confused…” Thankfully our team and social workers were able to explain to them that they were not going to be arrested, but were actually being removed from the brothel, and then they were able to calm down.

While in some parts of the world human trafficking looks like run-aways on city streets, in India survivors are often kidnapped at very young ages from their home villages. They are held until they reach womanhood and are then forced into prostitution. At that point forward, they have to attend multiple customers a day.

Aditi*, one of the minor girls who was rescued in Operation Tiger, had been forced into sexual slavery for the past year and half. She had no education, and came from a very poor family. She was likely kidnapped from her village.

Investigators from BRAVO Team found Aditi in a small roadside brothel. The investigators described it as a very low profile brothel, with only a cot or a bed sheet on the floor for sex. BRAVO Team had investigated this brothel in the past and found minors there before. After engaging police support, the successful raid was completed. Six of the girls who were rescued were minors, the youngest being only 12 years old.

For now, Aditi will be kept in a government safe home, and a local Child Welfare Committee will assess her case, along with the other girls’, and make further decisions concerning post-raid care. From a village to a brothel, Aditi is now safe and that is reason to celebrate.

 

 

*Aditi is a representative name meaning free and unbound. All photos used here are representative.

 

Thank you to our friends at Messenger International who funded this raid and helped make freedom possible. 

How We Started

How We Started

The Exodus Road was begun through the journey and work of co-founders Matt and Laura Parker. Moving to Asia with their family in April 2010, Matt and Laura initially directed a children’s home for hill-tribe girls in rural Northern Thailand. One year later and after stepping away from his role at the children’s home, Matt began networking within the counter-trafficking community of NGO’s in the area, specifically in the area of intervention.  He eventually began working with local police to identify victims of trafficking and began to see firsthand the deficiencies of intervention efforts due to a lack of funding, collaboration, training, and equipment. After building relationships for nearly two years with both the government and local NGO’s and through his own investigative work into over 250 brothels, he and Laura began The Exodus Road in January 2012. The bedrock ideas were that: ordinary people can make a difference in modern abolition, nationals should be empowered to impact their own communities, collaboration is essential for freedom, innovation and strategy are components of effectiveness, and rescues with local police and resulting legal action are critical to making human trafficking more dangerous for criminals.

Although the nonprofit is not religiously affiliated, they chose the name “The Exodus Road” based on the biblical concept of the Israelite exodus from slavery, the time when the people came out of bondage under Egyptian rule. They included the term “road” to symbolize the practical nature of the organization’s work to move beyond theory into action, past developing concept and into actual steps of movement along freedom’s path.

In the summer of 2013, Matt and Laura moved back to Woodland Park, CO, where they continued on personal support in the hopes of raising funds to empower the work of 15 investigators they had personally worked alongside and who needed funding and covert gear.  They worked from their kitchen table with two laptops and knew if something didn’t break in the first three months, they’d need return to “regular” jobs. They received their first official grant in the fall of 2013 from a private foundation and opened an office above a tire shop in the small town of Woodland Park, CO. The work and vision of The Exodus Road grew quickly.

In the summer of 2014 Matt and Laura moved back to SE Asia to oversee the headquarters field office in Asia. The Exodus Road stateside office moved to Colorado Springs, where it remains today, under the management of VP of Global Ops, Kevin Campbell. Despite wearing many hats, a necessity for any start-up nonprofit, Matt currently serves as the CEO and Laura is the Sr. VP, as well as the VP of the Communications and Advancement Departments.

Matt and Laura have since been joined by a tribe of committed staff and volunteers active on three continents, and they continue to be honored to help empower such courageous and persevering work on behalf of freedom.

You can read about their journey in a short book they wrote about their first year in undercover work, The Exodus Road: A Wife’s Journey into Sex Trafficking and Rescue.

You can also connect with them on social media (though be warned, Laura is much more active) – –  Laura Parker (@mrslauraparker) / Matt Parker (mattparker_ER).

Facebook
Facebook
Pinterest
Pinterest
INSTAGRAM