Imagine this: You get up early, as you do every morning, to get chores done around the house, get the kids ready for school, and you go your separate directions as your 15 year old daughter makes sure the young ones make it to school. About 11:00 your daughter shows up at your work in tears. She has been raped by two young men for hours and beaten brutally. After caring for her essential needs you call the police.
The police don’t show up to talk with your daughter for two days. When they finally do arrive, they interrogate your daughter on the details of the attack. Never do they indicate that they believe her story in spite of her massive injuries. They take her clothes from the attack with all the forensic evidence (which will never be seen again) and promise to contact you when they know more.
Imagine that your daughter knew the men, saw them nearly every day, and gave their names to police. When the police never return, you inquire about the case. The police tell you that there is no evidence against these men. They suggest that you can press charges if you want, but they can only go to trial if you pay for the expenses of the trial (police, lawyer, court, judge, etc.), which you could not afford without selling your home.
While you are trying to figure out whether you will risk everything for the trial, the family of these men sends a messenger to your house several times a week. The messenger simply says this: “If you pursue this trial, these men will rape your daughter again every day.” They have no fear of prosecution. They are taunting you and telling everyone about it.
If you do sell your house or go into debt to press charges, the rapists will have a much better lawyer and the police will be bribed to alter the evidence in their favor. You have no recourse and your daughter lives in fear every day that they will come back. You can take matters into your hands, but if you do then they will do even greater violence to your family.
This sounds like the trailer for an awful upcoming movie with the requisite hero set to save the day. But there is no hero in this story, just unimaginable violence and hopelessness.
This particular story is not true, but stories like this one fill the pages of The Locust Effect. The book will be released on February 3 by Oxford University Press by authors Gary Haugen (founder of the well known International Justice Mission) and Victor Boutros (a US Justice department prosecutor). I’m reviewing the book ahead of release and it is wrecking my world. (Before you dismiss this story as my fabrication, read about this woman’s brutal rape by 13 men as the sentence for her “crime” in India just this week.)
(Read below to find out how you can win a free copy of the book.)
One of the reasons that this book is impacting me so deeply is that it reminds me of the stories that three men told of their experience of civil war in Sierra Leone. This was a nation that had experienced bitter violence and few of them spoke about it. One evening these three men told us their experiences of the war and it was horrific. I suspect that many people that will read this book will have spent time in developing nations. They experienced their hosts as jovial and welcoming. But rarely is their story of violence told. This book is important because it tells the stories of everyday people just like the friends that many of us have met in the developing world. And when we hear their stories we can begin to understand what life is like when they are not showering us with hospitality.
The key thesis is this: Nothing can eliminate the destructive effects of poverty without deterring common everyday violence like theft, rape, illegal imprisonment, land theft, and police brutality. The developed world is spending government, humanitarian, and missions dollars to build wells, schools, and housing across the globe. But every day violence is eliminating the effects of this assistance by taking the material resources by force and taking the emotional and community resources by terror.
As I’m reading this book, I’m becoming convinced that we are about to see the next revolution in justice ministries among evangelicals. A decade ago none of us knew what sex or labor trafficking was about or how we could do anything about it. Gary Haugen and IJM were part of the movement that changed our thinking. I’m convinced that just a few years from now we will all know about the broken justice systems of the world, their effects on the poor, and what we can do about it.
Haugen and Boutros are offering a hopeful solution (but not a simple one) to this plague of violence that is dashing our hopes of ending poverty. If you want to be heartbroken and hopeful, follow the story with me. Over the coming weeks I’m going to be retelling some of the stories from the book in this series of posts.
If you want to learn more, visit http://www.thelocusteffect.com/.
Related Post: Living Outside The Law: #LocustEffect Part 2