Joining forces to fight sexual exploitation
by Katie Pearn
Photo credit: Rick Erlendson
From the story of Tamar in Genesis, to the modern-day scourge of human trafficking, or the revelations of the #MeToo movement; it seems sexual exploitation has always been with us and always will. And this is not a problem that only occurs in faraway places – chances are each of us knows someone, or is someone who has experienced sexual violence of some kind. This injustice is happening in our homes, our neighbourhood, our community.
But there is hope for positive change in our generation! There are groups of concerned, skilled, and caring people working in our midst, on a God-given mission to see both victims and perpetrators of sexual exploitation made whole again. There are also compassionate individuals who may be just encountering the scope of the issue, and are looking for ways they can learn more. It is at this intersection that the Seek Justice Summit (SJS) hopes to have a positive impact.
The SJS is a two-day event that will bring some of these groups working in the Calgary area together, and connect them to concerned citizens. The event is hosted by Harmony through Harmony (HtH), a network of singing ensembles in Calgary dedicated to fighting for justice in the context of community, along with International Justice Mission (IJM), a global organization that aims to protect the most vulnerable and poor people from violence, such as sex trafficking, bonded labour and legal system corruption.
“We have learned over the years that there is such amazing work happening to fight sexual exploitation by so many different groups,” says Beth McLean Wiest, executive director of HtH, and SJS event organizer. “Sometimes all that’s needed to maximize everyone’s efforts is for some bridges to be built. The Seek Justice Summit is one of those bridges.” The overarching theme of this summit is ‘Justice Begins at Home’ and will explore the questions “What am I doing that is contributing to this injustice?” and “What can I do to help?”
The SJS takes place at Dalahousie Community Church on March 16-17, and will begin with a movie screening on Friday night. Saturday’s activities include a keynote speaker address, ACT Now workshops, and will culminate with a powerful “Praying for Justice” event facilitated by IJM with music by HtH. “This is an event for anyone whose heart breaks over the issue of sexual exploitation,” says McLean Wiest. “Whether you have been working for years in the field, or are just learning about this injustice, there will be something for you.”
Visit www.seekjusticesummit.ca to register and for more information.