Ripped from the morning’s headlines…

I got email this morning from a reader who had just finished Doc and who was kind enough to take the time to tell me how he reacted to the book.

“I have been a police officer in Wichita, KS for 24 years,” he wrote, “and know a little of the politics and day-to-day grind that takes its toll on the men and women in that job field. I think you hit the nail on the head portraying Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil and Bat in that light. We also, still, deal with a bad prostitution problem that shows so well in your portrayal of some characters in the book. Seems not much has changed in 130 years.”

I have written about prostitution and very young women who’ve done time on the street in several of my novels. There’s Sofia Mendes in The Sparrow, Maria Avoni in A Thread of Grace, and Kate Harony in Doc,  for example. A psychiatrist might have a more baroque explanation for why this theme shows up in my work, but absent extensive psychoanalysis, I would say that it’s simply my recognition that in many times and in many places, prostitution is the only way a young woman on her own can make a living.

In yesterday’s edition of Cleveland Plain Dealer, there was an article with the arresting headline “Nuns set to blitz sex traffickers who exploit the Super Bowl.” That certainly snapped my bleary eyes open first thing in the morning, and I hope you’ll take time to read it as well.

A coalition of nuns and their supporters are putting public pressure on hotel chains that profit from the sex industry. Because of the nuns’ influence, Hilton Worldwide, Wyndham Worldwide, Millennium Hotel (in St. Louis), and the Carlson companies (which include Radisson Hotels and  Country Inns and Suites) now train their employees to recognize signs of trafficking on their premises; to document and report suspected criminal activities; and to make anti-trafficking information available to “guests,” who might be looking for a way out of the life.

Sex trafficking devastates its victims, who are mostly very young women and children subjected to gross human rights violations, including rape, torture, forced abortions, starvation and threats against their families if they go to the police. Many of the girls working at the Super Bowl will have been imported from foreign countries, some duped with promises of good jobs in the United States, others kidnapped or purchased outright. And some will be runaways from American families, many of whom have been subject to incest before they began working for pay on the streetcorner. As the nuns’ coalition states, “We unequivocally affirm the dignity of every human being — including victim-prostitutes, who rarely evoke much sympathy.”

John Henry Holliday speaks for me as well when he says, “They break my heart, these girls…” If you have reason to suspect that someone is being trafficked, the Sisters of St. Joseph in Cleveland can help you to help. Get in touch with them, and they’ll tell you what to do next.



5 thoughts on “Ripped from the morning’s headlines…”

  1. Thanks so much for posting this, Mary. My heart has always gone out sex workers. Unless their work is their own choice and they are given specific legal protections, then in most cases they are victims in every sense of the word. The fact that sex slavery is so prevalent in 2012 speaks volumes to how far we have yet to evolve as a species. Kudos and thanks to the Sisters, and to the hotels who are signing on to help this epidemic. I hope the hotel chains live up to their intentions.

  2. God bless you for bringing this to our attention, Mary. And God bless the Sisters and anyone who is trying to help this cause. Very, very sad situation…

  3. i am an avid reader. i read about a book a week and have a wide area of interest.’ive always had an interest in D0c Holliday an Wyatt Earp. I must say however that your writing was some of the best ive read by any author and it has given me much enjoyment. thank youTonyTT

  4. I just finished a Thread of Grace which was a gift from a dear friend. It was the last of an unintended trilogy on WWII resistance, following “All the Light you Cannot See” and “Nightengale”. What a finale! I bristled at the introduction of details and characters. Deja vu all over again from Dune. What a wonderfully written story of a horrible time and the triumph of kindness over evil. The character that really haunts me is Schramm. If I had a writing class, I would ask them to pen a short story on his subsequent life. What a epic recovery of both his lungs and his heart. That they took this evil person in epitomizes their ethic; “if you can help, do so”. As a surgeon, and recovering Catholic, I identified with he, his guilt, his illness and his caregivers. Your depiction of illness, wounds and wounding was very vivid and accurate. Your depiction of the Italians was on the mark, they are indeed most gracious. Thanks, or should I say “gracie a mille”! Your book opened my mind and my heart. I still have goosebumps a week later. Only that they last a decade.

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