I Call Out

Author: Kayla, WAR, Int’l Intern
September 2022


As a teenager in my late teens, I call out for the injustice being done to my generation. I call out for the voices that are silenced. I call out for freedom and protection for children and teens who are vulnerable. I call out for moms and dads to be involved.

I am calling out because it takes many voices to be heard, and I want to voice something that I see is a problem. Many people, including myself, have believed that our voices don’t have value or won’t make a difference. This is my cry to make a difference—not as a political resume but as a voice of freedom.

I have been given this opportunity to share what is heavy on my heart and to invite you to join me in calling out for freedom!

A Cry for Men, Women, and Children to Take Action!

I look around my country in the land of the free, and I see a lot of brokenness and isolation. I see people vulnerable to being trafficked and exploited. I call out for moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandmas, and grandpas to create circles of protection! We like to turn a blind eye to what’s happening, but we can’t! We have to get uncomfortable and reach out to people who are hurting!

This is our problem! We need to do something. We have an epidemic of slavery transpiring in our country! According to the U.S. State Department, at least 1.5 million people within North America fall victim to sex or labor trafficking. Friends, 1.5 MILLION PEOPLE in North America! Don’t think of that number as merely a statistic but as representative of other human beings like you and me, each with a name and a face, each with their own hopes and dreams, each with their own fears and insecurity. People like you and me who are enslaved and being robbed of their future.

I plead with people to take a risk and step up for the voiceless by educating themselves so they will not be caught off guard! The internet and COVID -19 have changed the face of trafficking as we know it. According to Statista.com, 83% of human trafficking is facilitated through the internet.

The popularity of technology and social media has increased trafficking and made it easier for predators to find victims. In a world where a lot of kids and teens are attached to their phones, it makes sense that traffickers have changed tactics. It is much easier to deceive and entice someone on the internet.

I challenge parents and kids to set up precautions and have conversations about the risks that the internet and social media present. It seems so innocent until it’s not! Traffickers know that kids and teenagers are vulnerable, and they use this to their advantage.

Take a stand today and have a conversation with your kids about internet safety. You can’t put your kids in a box to “protect” them from this issue. Parents need to have open and honest conversations about this topic. Talk about “red flags” and boundaries that can be put in place to safeguard them from being exploited. It means being practical and smart as you handle this new generation of technology at your fingertips. Circle around your kids, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren! They are lonely, confused, and hurting. Being a teenager is not easy, so give grace but also give truth. They need you to circle them in protection and love.

To the teenager and beyond, if there’s anything you take away from this message, know that you have a voice! Will you stand with me to reach out not only to our peers but also to our communities?! Not in anger, but with love and a heart to listen. As I wrap this up, I want to communicate a spirit of humility that I am right there with you wrapped in my own comfort bubble, and this is the beginning for me to break out of my own comfort zone one step at a time. That’s all I ask—to take one step at a time!

This is Kayla calling out!

Hello Fall

September 2022

What a summer it has been here at WAR, Int’l. In June we launched our 1st Mystery Box, and thanks to all you shoppers, we very quickly sold out! With the subsequent success of Mystery Boxes 2 and 3, look for more opportunities to get a great deal as you #ShopWithPurpose.

Another special we offered this summer – 10% off total sales at home parties held during the months of June, July, & August – made a considerable impact. Below, we’ve detailed the significance of these events in rescuing, redeeming, restoring, and empowering vulnerable lives around the globe, including right here in the Land of the Free.

Read on to hear more about the latest and greatest with WAR, Int’l!

Shoutout to Hostesses
By taking advantage of our 10% summer party special, YOU have helped transform the lives of rescued and at-risk men, women, and children around the world. The numbers are still coming in, but so far YOU have sold over $8,000 worth of products! That’s more than enough to support 25 survivors in an international safehouse for an entire month! Thank you for bringing hope to their lives and empowering them to forge a bright new future!

Email party@warinternational.org to schedule your pop-up party today!

The Great Flood at HQ
Bright and early on August 15th, WAR staff members were greeted with water rushing out the side door of our building. Not how they had anticipated starting the new work week, to say the least. Apparently, over the weekend, a plumbing malfunction in the upstairs restroom led to major flooding of the upstairs and eventually the downstairs as well.

In an effort to maintain a sense of humor in the midst of a discouraging turn of events, we’ve dubbed our HQ “Noah’s Ark.” The restoration will take months, but we will prevail. We will continue with the work we are called to do.

To stay up-to-date on the latest, follow our WAR, Int’l Facebook page.

If you wish to help with the costs of restoration, please consider leaving a financial gift here.

Have you Read…???
Our latest blog post is written by no other than our inspiring founder and president, Rebecca McDonald. If you haven’t already had a chance, be sure to check out what she has to say about the transformation of her shopping habits after her experiences of walking alongside survivors and lifting them to lives of dignity. Smile and take heart that you too can make a difference in the lives of the rescued and at-risk by shopping the work of their hands!


Read the latest blog post here!

New Product Highlight
The Committed Necklace is handmade by rescued women and designed to connect an advocate like you to a survivor in the trafficking hubs of Asia. It is not one but two necklaces—one for you, and one created from the inside heart of your necklace and gifted to a woman during outreach in the red light districts. As our partners place the delicate heart around her neck, your gift of a heart speaks the truth that she is neither forgotten nor alone. It sparks courage and opens up the door to freedom.


Commit to ending injustice by purchasing your necklace here!

Mystery Box #3
If you’re looking for a simple-trendy-glitzy-everyday vibe to spruce up any outfit, then MB#3 is just what you need! Handcrafted by at-risk Thai women who are now working with dignity, you contribute to their future with the power of your purchase. Originally valued at $30, this mystery box set is available to you for only $10 while supplies last! Grab yours today at warchestboutique.com!

Don’t forget our Outdoor Market!
Ever run errands after dropping your kids off at school for the day? Before heading home, why not stop at the WAR Chest Boutique to get in on some early Christmas shopping, or better yet, meet up with some other moms to shop with a purpose before grabbing lunch together!

Our Outdoor Market will be open through September and is offering some great deals on jewelry, accessories, and more! Take advantage of the warm weather season while it lasts and enjoy browsing our treasure chest of unique gifts both indoors and outdoors as you support survivors and those at risk with the power of your purchase.

Monday, September 26nd – Light Up Your World

Don’t forget to join for us this month’s Light Up Your World Zoom call! We are honored to have Carrie, a survivor of domestic violence, be part of our conversation with WAR, Int’l founder and president Rebecca McDonald. Carrie will relay the twists and turns of her journey through heartbreak, loss, and abandonment, and how she ultimately discovered spiritual and emotional healing through the ministry of healing prayer. Your heart will be touched by her testimony of God’s redemption and the lessons He has taught her from a place of brokenness. Mark your calendars and join us on Monday, September 26, at 7:30 pm EST. To learn more, follow the link below to our upcoming events page!

Light Up Your World

International Women’s Day: My Thoughts & Three Conclusions

Author: Rebecca McDonald, President & Founder
March 1, 2022


As I’ve traveled the world, I have heard of horrific stories of the lack of rights, some unrepeatable. In many lands, a woman raped must have a witness because a man’s word is literally worth 2 women. If he comes up with a male witness to say the opposite, she must find 4 witnesses. I’ve discovered faith systems where the women are not allowed to take part in ANY part of the worship. They can cook for the men but have NO say in their faith. Should their family cease to produce a male, their faith dies completely out. Men can get a divorce just by saying so 3 times, but a woman can never divorce. In rare cases, if she does, she will never see her children again. Women are denied school, can’t hold jobs even if trained as doctors or lawyers, must not run a business…the list is endless.

Growing up as an American in lands where women and girls had next to NO rights had a profound effect on me. My home was a safe place where my voice was precious & heard. Being an only girl with 3 brothers helped with the “princess status.” But seriously, my parents took me seriously to the point that my word carried more weight than my older sibling due to our approach to things. I was treated like the oldest child in many ways. Meanwhile, outside my home, my girlfriends had almost no say. They were bought and sold in a marriage contract. The culture even had “marriage brokers” the same way we approach buying a home to find the right details, price, pedigree, etc. for the male family to “consider.”


Three distinct events left an impression on me.

1) You recall my 14-year-old village girlfriend was raped (by family), fought back, and had acid poured down her throat to “silence her” literally.


Nehru: My 14 yr. old girlfriend forever silenced with acid poured down her throat.

2) For the wealthy, it was even harder in some ways with more at stake. I remember 2 upper-class girlfriends. One, the daughter of the Minister of Education, a power elite family, “met and fell in love with” a high-class boy while in the USA getting their education. From the richest Bengali family, it was “OK.” BUT, they had to go through the charade of pretending it was an arranged marriage and they’d never met. Heaven forbid a woman should choose her own path…or a boy for that matter.

3) Then as an adult, I sat in the home of another wealthy family related to the nation’s President who babysat his young son. That night while my son played with the President’s son, their daughter came in angry from university classes. Her father had arranged a marriage to another wealthy family. The sisters of the “groom to be” came to “check her out” looking her up and down in the door of the classroom like she was “a cow for sale at the market.” She complained bitterly that any family whose women treated her like “property for sale” was not a home she wished to marry into. Very simply (so liberal of him), the father just said, “Ok…I’ll look for another.” She walked off happily. I sat thinking about the fact that she was submitting happily to his giving in yet still in charge of who she’d marry.


What Does All This Prove?

Simply that for all our progress as women, we have a long way to go in many lands. I have 3 conclusions from a lifetime of working to empower women.

l) I love America despite its many many flaws. I am a woman that founded an organization and has a voice in any setting and platform I wish to pursue. Yes, it may be that I have had to fight harder, dig deeper, swallow slights…but I am willing to do so if it means lifting the broken, the voiceless, the wounded, the hurting. At the end of the day, there is no slight, indignity, or put-down that compares to those of the lives we represent. So for them, we willingly take up that cross and march on. I’m patriotic not for apple pie, motherhood, or football, but for our right to speak out! I beg you to hold your rights as a privilege and luxury. The day we lose the right to speak freely, we are not a great nation anymore. I know what that looks like. I grew up with girlfriends that had no voice. We must always allow the voice of the silenced no matter whether we like its sound or not. It is what makes us great. When you silence anyone, you give predators power. Our right to free speech in every aspect is truly what sets us apart.

2) I am a mother of 3 boys (& 1 daughter), a sister to 3 brothers, grew up as an American surrounded by the “Taliban mentality,” & work with law enforcement and clergy (male-dominated). I know the world of men and I respect it. I don’t want you to bash my boys any more than my daughter. While we must find rights for women, we must not do it to the detriment of our boys. Fixing a wrong by going to extremes only hurts everyone in the end. I have an article on this on our website. Suffice it to say, All Voices Matter Regardless of Genders. We need to stick together to lift all voices in the fight for freedom.

3) Four decades of being the “Voice of the Silenced” proves those who suffer have the most profound insights. We’d be wise to listen first to them, the experts. They may not have the solutions to the problem politically, legally, or structurally. But their voices should be the template, the mentor, the guard rails that guide significant changes. To fix something without the insight of the experts is to not fix it at all. With 2 ears and only 1 mouth, listen first and twice as long. Then be the voice of the silenced no matter how small you think you are.

Passionate to be the Voice of the Silenced:
Becky

Weinstein, MeToo, and TheyToo

Brittany Swart, WAR, Int’l Intern
June 19, 2018

As the black SUV pulled up, the crowd pulled out their cameras and phones, and as the man of the hour stepped out, devices started clicking and flashing. People pushed forward, jockeying for the best spot, as the crowd clamored to see him. Most had likely arrived early; this was an exciting day. The moment had come. The crowd, however, was not at a long-awaited premiere but at a courthouse. And the man they had come to see was there not to hear his praises sung, but to hear a list of charges filed against him.

The man was Harvey Weinstein, cofounder and former chief executive of the independent film studio The Weinstein Company. Weinstein, accompanied by law enforcement, turned himself in to authorities on May 25, 2018, nearly eight months after allegations of sexual assault began to surface. Thanks to accusations made by singer Lucia Evans and an unidentified woman, Weinstein was charged with rape, a criminal sex act, sexual abuse, and sexual misconduct. While he maintains his innocence (Weinstein pleaded not guilty on June 5), more than 80 women have accused the film executive of rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment. Known for having produced some of the biggest movies in Hollywood, he is now recognized as the match that set a movement on fire.

#MeToo

“Me, too” – this short phrase has created massive waves of shocking revelation and outrage in our society. Started by Tarana Burke, founder of the nonprofit youth organization Just Be, Inc., the #MeToo movement has let women share their stories of rape, sexual assault, and harassment on social media in solidarity with others. Ever since dozens of women came out of hiding to accuse Weinstein of rape and abuse, the movement has been gathering steam and continuing to speed up, bringing down such powerful and influential men as Roy Moore, Charlie Rose, Russell Simmons, Mario Batali, Danny Masterson, and Bill Cosby.

Alleged to have perpetrated acts ranging from indecent exposure to rape, these men (and dozens more) have all been accused of committing various sexual crimes against women. Most have either resigned their positions or been fired because of the allegations. Some have been charged; a jury in a recent re-trial found Bill Cosby guilty of sexual assault.

We have watched as the #MeToo movement has exposed some of the most influential, beloved men in popular culture, portraying or revealing them as abusers of women, while also validating many abuse survivors whose quest is to be heard and taken seriously. This movement has made many of us stop and rethink what is acceptable socially and what is not.

Women At Risk, International (WAR, Int’l) stands with these women who have bravely and boldly made their voices heard—not only for themselves, but also for others facing the same battles. We believe that darkness loses its grip when experiences are brought to light. Some of our staff have long given voice to their own stories, knowing that one person’s courage to say #MeToo may free another from the imprisonment of thinking, “only me.” Whether on social media or with a trusted individual or group, sharing their stories can help survivors of assault, abuse, and other forms of risk to find others who will walk with them on the journey to healing.

#TheyToo

As the #MeToo movement continues to empower thousands of assault and abuse survivors to find their voices, let us remember to stand up for those who are still unheard, including thousands of sex-trafficking victims throughout the United States. Once lured into the sex industry by force, coercion, or fraud, many victims are not only used but also abused by their pimps or traffickers, who may beat, drug, threaten, or isolate them to keep them cooperative and silent.

Like the celebrities who have come forward with their stories, #TheyToo have faced harassment, assault, and rape—many on a daily basis. #TheyToo have been denied the dignity and respect they deserve. #TheyToo have felt afraid and helpless, and #TheyToo have been bullied into silence. Although they have no platform on which to speak out, #TheyToo deserve to be heard.

As more victims are heard and more perpetrators are held accountable, let’s guide these rivers of righteousness and justice down to the thousands of women, men, girls, and boys who are trafficked in the United States and preyed upon by corrupt individuals. They may not be able to fight for themselves, but we can fight for them: through awareness events and preventative outreach, calls to politicians and the media, and everyday conversations. Just as the light exposed Weinstein and others, we can shine a light on this billion-dollar criminal enterprise. As the #MeToo movement gave voice to many, let us be a voice for the victims of trafficking.

Because #TheyToo deserve to be heard.

Everyone can do something to fight harassment, sexual assault, and human trafficking. To learn how to recognize and respond to these issues in your own community, consider taking part in a Civilian First Responder conference. Women at Risk, International (WAR, Int’l) has educated thousands of professionals and ordinary citizens across the United States through live anti-trafficking training conferences. Now, for the first time, these trainings are now available in a digital format, allowing anyone anywhere to access this training! We also offer a variety of other opportunities to get involved, help the most vulnerable, and make a difference.

A Win-Win for Anti-Trafficking Efforts

Congress Passes Online Sex Trafficking Bill; FBI Shuts Down Backpage

Brittany Swart, WAR, Int’l Intern
April 20, 2018

Warning: This article contains links to documents from the Department of Justice and several news stories. Some content in these documents and stories may be disturbing to some readers.

With the advent of the internet, trafficking and abuse of women and minors has exploded. Left unchecked, the online world can become another plane of abuse, another place women and minors are used for the base desires of others. However, with the passing of recent legislation, the online world just became safer for current and would-be survivors of human trafficking.

Many trafficking survivors and their advocates are celebrating the passage of the Online Sex Trafficking Act, also known as H.R.1865, which President Trump signed on April 11. This piece of legislation states that victims of human trafficking can sue websites that either knowingly allowed human trafficking to take place on their sites or benefited from the sale of prostitution. These websites may be found criminally liable and receive a fine or jail time or both (115th Congress).

Detractors of H.R. 1865 say it hampers free speech and could open the door for the government to enforce further regulation on the internet. However, the Online Sex Trafficking Act specifically states human trafficking and prostitution as the reasons for prosecuting websites. Only sites advertising or benefiting from prostitution, trafficking, or solicitation of minors would face criminal liability.

Critics also claim that the bill endangers trafficking victims and voluntary sex workers: the elimination of websites used to facilitate sex-work could drive prostitution underground, exposing victims to “dangerous circumstances.” However, anti-trafficking organizations such as Shared Hope, Int’l point out that sites advertising prostitution do not protect human trafficking victims from harm—they simply act the part of the middle man and profit from the facilitation of rape and other violent acts. And women who used websites for prostitution were no safer than on the street; there have been several instances of solicitors murdering women they met online. Unlike victims of sex trafficking, who did not have a choice in advertising their “services,” those who purchased them did have a choice. Unguarded advertising sites made it terrifyingly easy for these buyers to purchase woman and minors for whatever they desired while remaining nameless and faceless.

Since the Online Sex Trafficking Act passed congress on March 21, Craigslist has voluntarily removed its Personals section, saying, “any tool or service can be misused; we can’t take such risk.” Backpage, an advertising site like Craigslist, is particularly known for the rampant prostitution that occurred on its site; it is sites like Backpage that H.R. 1865 targets. On April 6, the FBI removed Backpage and its related websites as part of an “enforcement action.”

The indictment…clearly presents a network of people who did not merely turn their backs on the prostitution and trafficking of women and minors but actively encouraged it through their insistence on profit over people.

The same day Backpage was seized, the FBI arrested seven people associated with the site, including founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin and CEO Carl Ferrer. They have been charged in Federal court on ninety-three counts related to prostitution and money laundering (Department of Justice). (Just before this article was published, Ferrer pled guilty to “conspiracy to facilitate prostitution using a facility in interstate or foreign commerce and to engage in money laundering.”) According to the indictment, the defendants knew that most of the site’s ads involved prostitution and, because of their tolerance, Backpage made over $500 million in profit from prostitution.

The indictment also accuses Backpage of facilitating the selling of minors, noting several cases in which the site edited a minor child’s age and then let the edited ad proceed. Backpage also allowed thinly veiled sexual terms such as “Lolita” and “fresh” to be used in numerous ads for underage girls, along with accompanying graphic photos. The indictment of Backpage’s founders and executives clearly presents a network of people who did not merely turn their backs on the prostitution and trafficking of women and minors but actively encouraged it through their insistence on profit over people.

The passage of H.R. 1865 and the shutdown of Backpage are victories for human trafficking survivors and victims, but advocates of the bill are not stopping there. Shared Hope, Int’l would like to see future anti-prostitution efforts targeting not those coerced or forced into sex work, but those who create and facilitate the demand. Instead of being given a jail sentence, women in the sex trade can be offered a safe haven, economic and educational opportunities, and the assurance that they are women worthy of respect and love, who deserve to be heard and given a future.

Women at Risk, International is also committed to helping women involved in the sex trade, whether they are there due to force, economic necessity, or other factors. Even if a woman chooses to continue in prostitution, WAR, Int’l desires to help her—our goal is to love her where she is and walk alongside her, showing her love and respect. Along with helping women at risk, WAR, Int’l is passionate about getting others involved as well. Whether through advocating for legislation, engaging in outreach, purchasing handmade products that benefit at-risk women, volunteering, reading a book, or simply talking with someone, everyone can fight human trafficking. WAR, Int’l offers multiple opportunities for people who want to join the fight— for those who want to stand and proclaim that the fight for justice will never stop until every woman, girl, boy, and man is free from slavery.