Noel Yeatts—anti-trafficking activist and founder of World Help—says the Epstein scandal is yet another example of how American culture is driving the sex-trafficking industry across the world.
“[This case] is raising awareness to something that is so prevalent,” she tells Charisma News. “Too often in America, we pretend that it’s not. We really need to wake up to how big of an issue this is.”
Yeatts cites a statistic that the U.S. is the No. 1 consumer of sex worldwide. She sees the truth of this firsthand when she ministers in Thailand with World Help.
“That [statistic] really shocked me in some ways, although it probably shouldn’t have,” she says. “When I go to Thailand, and I walk the streets, I see Americans everywhere. And I think that’s something else we need to acknowledge and wake up to is that, in some ways, our culture is driving this industry.”
Yeatts’ ministry rescues vulnerable girls from sex trafficking and helps them pursue their dreams. The organization ministers in Thailand and India, and between the two countries, World Help impacts thousands of women and girls every year.
Most of these girls are forced into prostitution because they live in poverty and are expected to provide for their families. Many of them are only 9 to 14 years old.
“We have what we call a freedom home,” Yeatts says. “We’re actually rescuing girls from the sex industry there in Thailand and giving them a second chance—a chance for an education and a safe place to live and to pursue their dreams.”
Yeatts shares the story of one 11-year-old girl whose family sold her to an elderly couple in a big city. But the girl wasn’t strong enough to help the couple out of bed, so in frustration, they sold her to someone else.
“She was sold probably five times before she ended up in a bar,” Yeatts says.
Often over time, these girls go to the bars in hopes of finding a safe place to sleep and work. Little by little, they start giving sexual favors for money so they can take care of their families back home.
“When I met [this 11-year-old girl], she was in one of our freedom homes,” Yeatts says. “And you would have never known her. Her life is completely turned around. She’s now studying, I believe, to become an engineer. Now she lives in a home where she’s introduced to the love of Jesus, a man who will never leave or forsake and loves her just as she is.”
Right now, Yeatts is excited about World Help’s latest project in Thailand: a baking school.
“Baking is very trendy in Thailand right now,” she says. “And the girls can learn a trade, they can find jobs and restaurants and cafes and have another opportunity to provide for themselves and their families.”
These girls caught up in the sex industry in Thailand often don’t have a choice, Yeatts says. But average Christians in the U.S. can do their part to help prevent abuse worldwide by praying and raising awareness.
“We need to educate our children better and stop this vicious cycle,” Yeatts says. “There are so many things about our culture, in movies and stuff, that almost glamorize [the sex industry], and I think we need to call it out for what it is and be part of the solution—not just helping the girls, which is what so much of our work is about, but stopping the demand cycle and raising a new generation that will not stand for it, that will say this is not acceptable.”
Listen to Yeatts discuss the horrors of sex trafficking and how Christians can respond to it in the podcast below! Learn more at worldhelp.net.