Somebody that I used to know…

So I have been here in Spain for about 1.5 months now. And of course, I still feel like a stranger to the city in the sense that I’m aware that I am a foreigner (*smirk*) and I am also aware that the locals are aware that I am a foreigner as well. They do not make me feel uncomfortable or anything (too often). You can just tell when they look at me that I appear to be something “new”…something different.

But what is surprising to me are the feelings I am feeling about myself. I too am feeling something new and different growing inside of me. I am feeling stronger. More confident. More aware. I am caring less about how others will perceive me and if I will fit in. Not that I am not trying to be a part. I am just doing what everyone else here is doing… Trying to survive so that one day they might just have the chance to just live, happily and peacefully.

We are all human and we all have worries. But there is a point where you start to realize what’s really important. It is about 345AM in the morning here in Spain. And you want to know what’s on my mind. Not what’s happening back home. Not if I am making a good impression in my new home. But focusing on fulfilling the goals I have set for myself. And those goals consist of experiencing the culture here in Spain and gaining insight into how the people of Spain live and feel. Putting my all into setting up opportunities for myself to be able to implement research tactics and understand the affects of prostitution and human trafficking on the community. Working hard to do all that I can to better myself (my mind, body and spirit) so I am equipped with the stamina/endurance, knowledge and resources needed to help save our children and deter them from being exposed to a life of victimization.

This feeling inside of me. I wish I could put it into words. This belief that God has instilled in me these powerful thoughts and ideas that I am capable of doing something worthwhile that could positively impact our youth on a global level… it is sometimes mind-blowing.

One thing that I can admit about myself is that I was never good with people on a consistent level. At one moment I could be popular and “on”. The next minute (period of time) if I was going thru something, my feelings could pour into my relationships, tarnishing and even ending them. Fortunately, I believe everyone who is supposed to be in my life at the moment is there for a reason. And I thank God everyday for them because they are my motivation to continue to push myself to do and be better.

I was recently speaking to my mother and at some point in the conversation I told her “I need to win people”. And initially she perceived that as I need for people to accept me, like I needed their attention and approval in order to validate myself. But I had to further explain. We were not bred to be alone. God created us to congregated in multiples. Just from the story of Noah’s Ark… none of the family members or animals who entered that vessel entered it alone.

We need the love and support of each other to survive. To truly be alive inside. Not to validate one another. But to spiritually empower one another. To reiterate the vision that God planned for us as a people. I realize that I have chosen to embark on a scary journey that will not be an easy task. And I am also aware that the fight I am trying to fight cannot be fought alone. I am only one person. And I need and want the support of others, who might be able to share in the mission and vision of my heart and the hearts of so many others around the world.

Over the past several years, especially as I have chosen to shed the “drama” and negativity from my life, I have been unforgiving in the sense that if I felt a relationship of mine was one-sided or I was feeling a sense of drama/cruelty/negativity from the other party, I had no problems removing them from my circle. And now, when I look myself in the mirror. I see love and forgiveness and compassion and passion for others. And I feel this overwhelming desire to touch others and be touched by others. When I look in the mirror…I feel it is somebody that I used to know.

I will always be me I believe. I am who I am and there are parts of my personality that will never change. But everyday, I am growing and evolving and gaining a better understanding and compassion for others. I am more forgiving than I have ever been in my life. I discretely tear up (meaning…you wouldn’t see me tear up but I can feel the pressure slightly swell in the back of my eyes) when I see the pain in a woman’s eyes because she has been heartbroken by the man she loves. Just little stuff like that. So imagine how I feel when I see a homeless child starving or being abused. When I look in the mirror. I see a woman. A sensitive, but strong-willed and determined woman who is preparing for battle.

The war against hatred, and starvation, and prostitution, and human trafficking, and all the other negativities in this world is a war that can’t be fought alone. And for the 1st time in a very long time…I am able to say “I need people”. Not for the sake of making myself feel better. But for the sake of working together and doing something positive for our hurting and dying world.

I know these blogs that I write might seem kind of extra’d out. But this is what I feel. I just feel so much love in me and so much sadness for others that I just do not know what do sometimes. And my only way of expressing these emotions that bring tears to my eyes are through writing.

I feel a self-obligation to make a difference. I do not know how much longer I have in this world or how long my body will allow for me to keep moving this fast. I do not know how much longer our world can survive all of this madness and turmoil. So time to me is just ticking away. And I feel that girl I used to know… she is someone who has led me to becoming this woman full of faith and hope that we can do it TOGETHER.

So I will end this by saying to my old self and all of the people who are no longer in my life: Now and then I think of when we were together. Told myself that you were right for me. But felt so lonely in your company. But that was love and it’s an ache I still remember. But you didn’t have to cut me off. Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing… Now you’re just somebody that I used to know.

You’re somebody that I used to know. But my subconscious will never forget you. It is you that reminds me of forgiveness, maturity and progress. Thank you. With Love, Nicola

World’s Oldest Profession: The Global War Against Prostitution

It has been said that prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. There has been an on-going concern with efforts to eliminate prostitution, exploitation, and human trafficking, while working to fight for human rights and minimize overstepping the boundaries of “freedom of choice”.

In 2001, the number of prostitutes in the world was estimated at 40 million. As of 2014, there are about 13 million prostitutes (that are accounted for) in the world, based on a 7.1 billion population count approximately. While this is a drastic “improvement”, prostitution is still an ongoing and reoccurring concern. In 2007, experts estimated 1 to 2 million prostitutes worked in the United States, with the FBI’s 2007 Uniform Crime Report listing about 78,000 arrests for prostitution and commercialized vice, but with experts saying those numbers were extremely conservative because many sex workers and clients aren’t caught. According to a 2013 report from anti-trafficking group, Shared Hope International, at least 100,000 children are prostituted each year as part of the $9.8 billion United States sex trafficking industry. As of 2014, there are still about 1 million prostitutes in the U.S., based on a 317 million population count approximately.

In countries such as France, while the accounted for number of sex workers is about 20,000-40,000, it is problematic that the only data available was presented in 2011, when 654 cases were registered, and that there is no available data on the abuse of children, when many of them are forced to beg on the streets. As of January 2014, unemployment reached an all time high for France at 3.3 million. These statistics have contributed to an increase in human trafficking, as it has in other parts of the world. In a January 2013 report, Traite des êtres humaines en France, the Council of Europe expressed concern about France’s data records on human trafficking and warned the French authorities that more resources should be allocated to tackling the prostitution phenomenon.

Or Spain, where Prostitución was decriminalised in 1995. Prostitution itself is not directly addressed in the Criminal Code of Spain, but exploitation, such as pimping, is illegal. Owning an establishment where prostitution takes place is in itself legal, but the owner cannot derive financial gain from the prostitute or hire a person to sell sex because prostitution is not considered a job and thus has no legal recognition. Some areas have implemented fines for street prostitution. Spain has been referred to as The World Capital of Prostitution, with Brothels being common, hidden-away establishments, and with a small group of workers offering Intro to Prostitution Courses. With the population in Spain being a little more than 47 million in 2014 (about 46.67 million in 2011), and with the country having an estimated 300,000 sex workers in 2011, prostitution and illegal activities accounts for 9 billion Euros of Spain’s GDP.

These types of issues are occurring in many countries. Prostitution generates $40 billion a year, mainly benefitting those who are trafficking people and drugs. Unfortunately, it is feared that the government’s efforts to eliminate prostitution in some countries may be counterproductive and it will only make those involved more careful at hiding and covering their trails to prevent getting caught.

As for the legality of prostitution, in 2013, about 50% of our globe’s countries reported prostitution being legal, with 11% being partially legally, and then 39% being illegal. As of 2014, while statistics have somewhat improved, it is still a fight that we appear to be losing.

I have been inspired to include prostitution in my blog based on personal experiences and individuals I have had the honor of meeting. I recently came across Stefanie Zillner’s article, Let’s Dare to Speak About Prostitution, a week ago on the 2013 Euroviews Educating Europe forum, which discussed how not only is involuntary prostitution an issue, but more surprisingly, “is the number of people who prostitute themselves out of desperation…they cannot afford their study”. How crazy is this? People prostituting themselves because they can’t afford the ridiculously expensive education that our government continues to increase!! It kind of pisses me off…

I know you may see me take breaks in my blogs as I have a lot going on. I hope to travel the world and fight against prostitution and human trafficking. I will discuss some disturbing issues. I will introduce you to some people who might make you feel uncomfortable, or completely touched. Prostitution is a major issue occurring in our society and it is unfortunate that it is an issue that we may not ever be able to rid. But we can do our best to shed light on this major global issue and never give up on our unified fight against the tragedy. Here is a list of a few (modern) news/movies/books/organizations that you might be interested in about prostitution and human trafficking:

Trade – film (2007)
Gardens of the Night – film (2008)
Taken – film (2008)
Abolishion – organization
Boogie Nights – film (1997)
Memoirs of a Geisha – film (2005)
Eden – film (2012)
Good Reads – books
UNICEF – organization
Sonny – film (2002)
Mississippi 168 Child Trafficking Bust – news article (June 2014)

Do you have any thoughts about prostitution or human trafficking? Any personal experiences or encounters? Do Tell Nicola…