The Musings 23 by Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla
Read: Luke 4: 18-20, John 8: 1-11
Finally the curtains have come down on Super Bowl and fans of Baltimore Ravens are happy that they are the champions. Last week we saw countless of fans descending in the city of New Orleans to watch the much-awaited Super Bowl final. Yesterday it was party time in most of the houses and in most of the cities especially in New Orleans. However, as preparations for Super Bowl final was being planned and reviewed, and as people from all corners of this nation descended in New Orleans, a group named Shared Hope International was also working along with the organizers of Super Bowl. But they were working on a different level and had a different objective in mind. More than the game in mind, their mind was on something different. The issue of Human Trafficking during the Super Bowl. According to organizers who are working against human trafficking, major sporting events like Super Bowl, Olympics and Word Cup are increasingly becoming avenues of sex trafficking and child prostitution. It is believed that more than 10,000 sex workers were brought in to Miami for the 2010 super bowl, while in 2011 Super Bowl in Dallas; there were more than 133 prostitution related arrest. What Shared Hope International was doing the 2013 super bowl event was an online advocacy among more than 12 million Super Bowl related post during the game. The method of advocacy was encouraging fans and other viewers to share their concern about human trafficking in Facebook or Twitter. The objective of Shared Hope International is to educate, equip and empower men to fight against human trafficking and sex industry and protect families. What happens in big sporting events is that criminal gangs and rings come together and operate the human trafficking racket. But why does such huge sporting events become a place for the exploitation and abuse of woman and girls. As millions of people flock to these sporting events like super bowl, or other events like world cup, men come with the concept of having some fun. The need to enjoy, party, drink and have fun. That is why sometimes during major soccer matches in the World Cup you have the police fighting with the unruly crowds who has gone berserk, gone berserk not only because of the passion for the game, but taking the passion for the game and also fun associated to the event to violent celebrations. In fact it is this concept of fun that the sex trafficking industry exploits during sporting events, whereby prostitution is encouraged subtly thus resulting to an increased case of exploitation of woman and girls. What is tragic about the whole incidence of exploitation of woman and girls is that they are often clubbed along with alcoholic drinks that needs to be enjoyed as you watch and enjoy games. It is sickening to note that woman become a commodity just like a bottle of alcoholic drinks to be enjoyed, an object that could be manipulated, degraded or could be used only as a tool for the enjoyment of men. Just as Shared Hope International is bringing about awareness of human trafficking at big sporting events, what is also needed is that this awareness also has to be worked out at grass root levels too, like school, family, and other social institution. The need to respect woman as person, upholding her dignity, ending all forms of abuse and exploitation and thus working for community where the identity and individuality of both men and woman is respected.
One of the focus and the objective of the ministry of Jesus Christ was not only empowering woman, but also critiquing the existing concepts that was prevalent in the society, especially with regards to woman, children and others who were relegated from the main frame of the society. Both the process of empowerment and critiquing the existing discriminatory concepts and laws with regards to women is what brought about liberation to woman and the other exploited class of people. In Like 4: 18, we find Jesus proclaiming in the synagogue that " The Spirit of the Lord is on me .......He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of Lord's favor. Here is Jesus Christ affirming that He has come to this world to bring about a society, a reign of God where no human being will be exploited on the basis of their gender, their handicaps nor on the basis of their social class. Here is Jesus Christ strongly bringing in the message that in God's kingdom every human being will be affirmed, respected and each one will have a rightful place. There is no hierarchy in this kingdom. It is this understanding that Jesus bring when Pharisees bring to his presence a woman who was caught in adultery [ John 8:1-11]. Here Jesus deals the issue not only about adultery but also the issues related to the case of an exploited woman. When Pharisees brought the woman to the presence of Jesus Christ, they were supposedly standing on high moral grounds. It was the woman who was a sinner, while they who were teachers of the law were blameless and they wanted Jesus Christ to punish the woman for the sins she committed. Here the exploited and abused is to be punished again while the exploiters and the abusers were roaming free and also still holding high position in the society. When Jesus refuses to condemn the woman, he was communicating a message to the Pharisees that He stands for justice for the exploited and condemnation for the exploiters and abusers. Here is Jesse not only empowering the woman to live a life free from sin, but he also critiques the Pharisees with regards to their lopsided understand of the law. A law interpreted in such a way that woman and other ordinary and common people were exploited and abused in the name of morality and upholding of the tenets of law. What is needed today in our society and in our thinking is upholding both concepts that Jesus preached. Hence we have consciously affirm and respect every individual so that we become agents of empowerment especially in the life of woman and girl child. At the same time be a part of the liberating forces whereby we can participate in bringing the reign of God in this world, where there is no form of exploitation or abuse because of ones gender or class. It is when each one of us could grow in this understanding, will our sporting events become events that encourages only sports and not becoming venues of human trafficking and exploitation and abuse of woman.