Our Approach: Rescue
Destiny Rescue is on a mission to end child sexual slavery in our lifetime. One key component of Destiny Rescue’s mission is to literally rescue children out of the sex trade and exploitative situations. Each child’s circumstances are different, so Destiny Rescue uses various rescue tactics depending on the needs of each operation. These missions can be broken down into two main categories: soft rescues and hard rescues.
It’s important to understand that in order for Destiny Rescue to operate in the countries we work in, we must first register our organisation with the relevant government departments. In many cases we also enter into a M.O.U. – or Memorandum of Understanding – with a country’s government allowing us to work in collaboration with government agencies.
The majority of the children we rescue have come through a method we call a soft rescue. This is when our rescue agents go undercover into brothels posing as customers with the hopes of finding individual children trapped in the sex industry and offering them a way out. In preparing for one of these operations, our team of agents spends time in discussion and prayer so that their minds and hearts are focused and ready for each night they go out into these dangerous places. The brothel owners might see our agents as just another customer but girls quickly realise something is different as our agents treat them with dignity and respect.
Once a potential trafficking victim is identified, the goal is to build trust with that child, which can take a couple of days, to several weeks or months, and in rare cases even up to two years. Many wonder why children aren’t jumping at the first opportunity to leave this life. The sad reality is these kids have been lied to and mistreated. They have often lost all hope that their situation will ever change. Their ability to trust and believe the best in people or for a brighter future has been broken. Not to mention, good people don’t visit these types of places. So building trust takes time.
Agents set up a means of communication with the girls, usually via a messaging app, and try to discover how and why the child has found herself in a bar/ brothel. There is always a root cause, which could be poverty, the breakdown or instability of family, trickery or coercion. Once the agent has an idea of why the child is there, he can then begin to discuss with a caseworker how to provide a solution that will best meet the child’s needs. Many girls recall agents feeling like a big brother or father during this time, someone they could trust and knew was looking out for them.
It’s at this point that our agents will reveal their identity and offer rescue, but not in the bar. It’s too dangerous. Typically, girls in these situations have limited freedom in off-duty hours but remain psychologically controlled by the brothel manager. Often there have been threats or the use of violence and girls fear running away or upsetting their boss. Our agents will set up a time to meet her outside of work hours at a place she will feel safe. They will bring along one of our caseworkers, and a translator if necessary, who will explain in detail who Destiny Rescue is and then offer her rescue and the opportunity for a better life. Usually with tears streaming down her face, she agrees to a brighter future!
SOFT RESCUE – AFTERCARE
Without aftercare and a strategic correcting of the problems that lead to their trafficking, these kids could easily fall back into the same situation. After we rescue a girl via a soft rescue, our caseworkers further investigate exactly how the child ended up in the sex industry. This usually entails going back to her village or home to talk with her parents or legal guardian. From this information, we will determine the best solution that best meets the needs for that child and family and put together an action plan. Seeing a rescued girl following her dreams and flourishing in her new life is our ultimate goal.
SOFT RESCUE – PROS AND CONS
One big advantage to a soft rescue is the speed at which we can rescue a victim. But there is one main limitation to performing a soft rescue: perpetrators often go unpunished. The main objective of a soft rescue is to get children out of that environment, not to bring prosecution against their abusers. So at times, justice isn’t served against the traffickers, abusers and pimps. In saying that, our rescue agents do still gather intel and evidence while on soft rescues so that eventually our agents can work with the police to conduct raids. So in that sense, we are working towards arresting perpetrators in the long run.
When Destiny Rescue works with the police to coordinate raids, we call this a hard rescue. Our team works with top law enforcement agencies, equivalent to the U.S. FBI, as well as regional and local anti-trafficking police divisions. These agencies look to Destiny Rescue agents’ expertise to assist in gathering needed intel, formulating plans and coordinating logistics for successful raids.
Coordinating a raid can be a long, tedious and in some cases, fruitless process. Without naming specific countries, raids have occasionally failed because corrupt police officers learn about the impending raid and tip off brothel owners who pay them under the table to turn a blind eye. Yet, despite these occasional disheartening results, Destiny Rescue has been part of many successful raids in which we’ve rescued many children, had brothels and KTV bars shut down, entire hotels barred from doing business, and perpetrators arrested and put in jail. These acts of justice can ward off other potential traffickers and bring countries and communities one step closer to eradicating this evil.
HARD RESCUE – AFTERCARE
Our rescue agents are not the only ones hard at work before or after a raid. Our Destiny Rescue aftercare teams are too. Raids can be stressful and traumatic for victims, so our team of aftercare professionals work diligently to alleviate as many of those stress factors as possible.
A great example of our commitment to holistic care, even in raid situations, is our incredible aftercare team in the Philippines. Before a raid even begins, our aftercare team gathers information from our rescue agents so that they are ready to provide care packages for the rescued children. Then following the raid, our team works tirelessly to make sure the girls feel comfortable and safe, providing them food and loving support while sleeping arrangements and temporary housing are co-ordinated. Our social workers work with law enforcement to get girls’ statements and other important information for child protective services and the justice department; in the days following, they help and support the girls through the necessary judicial processes.
After a raid, aftercare facility placement for each girl is decided by appointed government officials. But that doesn’t mean our work ends there: our caseworkers will follow up with victims to see how they are progressing no matter which government or non-government aftercare program they have been assigned to.
HARD RESCUE – PROS AND CONS
Working with law enforcement to pull off successful raids is also necessary to ensure justice is being served to those exploiting children. In addition, it puts a healthy fear in the minds of those contemplating similar actions. One challenge to pulling off a successful raid is the fact that it can take months to gather the needed evidence, all the while kids are being abused. While these operations are necessary and essential in the fight to end child sexual slavery, we care about providing freedom to children as quickly as possible so that they don’t have to endure another night of abuse.
Another challenge with hard rescues, as previously mentioned, is the fact that it’s often difficult to find police teams who are entirely trustworthy. In many of the nations we work in, police teams are poorly funded, and corruption is rife, so it’s hard to tell which police member could be receiving kickbacks from brothel owners for tip-offs. While many operations have failed in the past because of leaks, we have found extremely trustworthy units in Thailand, the Philippines and India, who we have enjoyed great success with in the past years, and we look forward to further strengthening those ties, and developing new ones, in the future.
RESCUE SUCCESS AND VISION
Destiny Rescue has rescued over 2700 women and children since 2011. But rescuing kids is only one battle in the war for their freedom. That’s why Destiny Rescue’s focus is on holistic rescue, which means we care equally about these children’s restoration and successful reintegration. Our experienced aftercare teams work hard to provide the best care and resources necessary for children and their families to succeed – and we have an 80% success rate in doing it!
In the end, both rescue models are essential to Destiny Rescue’s progress forward as we work tirelessly to end child sexual slavery in our lifetime. As we learn new methods and more efficient ways of doing our work, they will become part of our ongoing strategy to ensure every child, everywhere, can use their beds for sleep, not work.