Editor's note: Watch Father Jonathan's comments on human trafficking from Saturday's FOX report by clicking here.
Our reporting on human trafficking and legal prostitution in Germany continues on today's blog. But then it will stop.
I have mixed feelings as I close shop on this story. Moving on is very sad. Dedicating the rest of my life to help each one of these women, and the men who take advantage of them, would be a worthwhile cause.
But then, I would leave other things behind. That's the way life is. We have to pick our battles.
Reporting is only one step, a baby step. It certainly is not enough.
As big as our stride might be, it will always be small in relation to the amount of ground to cover. I think part of humility is accepting our limitations and never giving up doing the little good we can.
Before leaving Germany I spoke with Marc Kinert, the spokesman for the Secretariate for the Family, the federal agency that oversees legal prostitution in Germany. A few simple questions to Marc Kinert sufficed to understand the government's attitude.
Here are my questions and his answers.
Father J: I have been in Germany investigating the rumors of increased human trafficking in the lead-up to the World Cup. From my conversations with people directly involved in the sex industry here, there are clear indications that the fears were well founded. Women have been trafficked into Germany. Has the government verified these facts?
Marc Kinert: We don't want to give an official statement because it is a difficult theme.
Father J: That's why I thought you would have a statement, because it is a difficult theme.
Marc Kinert: I'm sorry, that's all I can say.
Father J: Germany legalized prostitution in 2002 with the hope of making a de facto industry safer for women. Has this resulted in an increase or decrease in prostitution as a whole?
Marc Kinert: We don't have the study yet.
Father J: When will you have it?
Marc Kinert: Maybe next year.
Father J: The owners of the brothels tell me they have seen a dramatic upswing in business since legalization. They also say there are just as many women prostituting themselves on the streets. If your studies eventually show prostitution has increased since its legalization, will this be a cause for concern? In other words, does the government think prostitution is a good thing for women, as long as it's legal?
Marc Kinert: I am sorry, but I can't respond to that.
For the sake of brevity, I want to go now into some of your e-mails. I always show both positive and negative ones. I think they reveal a great deal of why the world is the way it is, in all of its beauty and filth.
Father Jonathan, what you are currently reporting on is vital for improvement of the human race on earth. This hideous trade is a vile act that is so widespread. It is unfathomable. However, by bringing it to light and to the attention of the world, maybe we can conquer it slowly but surely! God bless you, and be safe! — Veronica in Sparta, TN
Veronica, I like your can-do attitude. I have received many notes from people who are already deeply involved in this issue, dedicating their time and resources toward the extinction of this injustice. The rest of us have to find where we can make a difference in this world according to our particular circumstances.
Father Jonathan, "heartbreaking stories?" These women were scammed and they're ashamed. It happens to lots of people. You've managed to find anecdotal evidence of some women who are unhappy with the results of the risks they have taken. You gave no examples of violence, no examples of drug abuse, no evidence of criminal trafficking. Nothing!
I once overpaid for some car repairs because I took bad advice from a trusted friend. Not only did I have to go to another mechanic and spend thousands of dollars to redo the repairs, but I had to cancel a Caribbean vacation because I didn't have money to go. Why don't you report about that? — Devin
Devin, thanks for your note and for following the blog. I am sorry to hear about your car and your Caribbean vacation. Say a prayer for these women when you get a chance.
Father Jonathan, you are doing amazing work and helping people realize that there are so many predators out there victimizing the young and innocent. We have needed someone like you for a very long time and I pray that you can continue to keep the battle going.
God bless you and your crew — Petra in California
Petra, knowing how little I have done makes your words rather hard on the ears, but I appreciate your kindness. The best thing we can do is to raise children to love and be loved. They will be the ones to take the baton and run the next leg of this exciting relay race of life.
Father Jonathan, your actions of sticking your nose in other people's business and in other cultures is uncalled for. Clean up your own backyard first. You are reporting in a country (Germany) where the crime rate for rapes is lower than the United States. This is a well-supported and clean business that doesn't hurt anyone except the ones partaking in it. Mind your own business! — James
James, you are right. America has a unique set of problems. But in this day and age of globalized information, what happens in Germany affects America, and vice-versa. And even if it didn't, I would still hope we would have the courage to defend the human rights of those foreign women who are being hurt, as you yourself admit.
Father Jonathan, I thoroughly enjoy reading your column. I appreciate the diversity of topics and insights. Thanks for recognizing and revealing that all issues are not black and white and for discussing how faith does (rightly so) affect these issues. You do this without shoving it down anyone's throats or demeaning those who don't share your views.
Your articles about the prostitution issue demonstrate that "progress" does not necessarily mean "good" (as CS Lewis would agree) and that "human freedom" often results in the violation of human rights and the rejection of the idea that humanity is created in God's image. — Sandy in King of Prussia, PA
Sandy, regarding “human freedom,” I would say this. Freedom is not a right to do whatever we want. It is, rather, the beautiful capacity to do the right thing. Anything else is the abuse of freedom.
Father Jonathan, what makes you say that prostitution itself, legal or not, is bad for women and bad for men, an abuse by its very nature? Yours seems to be a purely emotional response, which does not take into account what each woman (or man) might actually want for his or her life. (see Matthew 7:1) — Tess
Tess, it's hard to believe you are using Scripture to defend human trafficking and prostitution. The verse you refer to is “Judge not, less you be judged.” It is a good verse for all of us. Thank you. I don't think it refers, however, to never making a moral judgment about what is right or wrong. It means we shouldn't judge someone's heart…the motives for which they do this or that. Hope that helps.
Until Monday, God bless, Father Jonathan
Write to Father Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org.