There is another chapter to Ken Perenyi's life that was omitted from his autobiography, and that is the chapter of how he used his ill-gotten gains to rescue a child from sex slavery and, as the FBI closed in on his forging escapades, found himself an unexpected parent to a Ghanian child.
Once or twice a month, myself and a handful of other volunteers pack a bus and head for neighborhoods that others would give anything to get out of. Our mission is to bring light, hope and healing to our sexually-exploited youth
No matter where you focus your attention, the issues affecting women and girls are vital to the well-being of our world. There are bold, resilient and powerful women right here in Chicago who are confronting these issues head on with innovative or proven solutions.
Hairdresser Michael Angelo normally spends hectic days at his salon in NYC, but recently he was in Cambodia, training young women who are survivors of the global sex trafficking epidemic how to blow dry, give manicures, cut, color and style, teaching them to take control of their images.
Why should LGBT people care? All social issues are LGBT issues, and around 10 percent of the millions of people who are trafficked are LGBT. As citizens of the world, we cannot just care about issues that we think are "ours." If we are human, then human trafficking is about all of us.
We commit ourselves and call upon people of conscience around the country to join this growing movement of modern-day abolitionists committed to eradicating the horror of slavery, growing every day around the globe.
We need to make it clear that addressing modern slavery is not only a human rights issue, it's a function of our identity. We're creating controversy over something incontrovertible. The very shape of Lincoln's shadow is an icon of freedom.
In many parts of the world, young girls are lured with promises, or simply carried off to be sold as sex slaves. Born in poverty, they are condemned to live a sad and hopeless life. The cries of these throwaway girls have been largely ignored until recent years.
Human trafficking and slavery depend on corruption, which depends on cash. Cutting off the global flow of money that is essential to greasing palms of corrupt officials would go a long way toward ending this barbarity. How to achieve that is another story.
I suppose it would be a more satisfying story if Jesus had waved his magic Messiah wand and intoned some Harry Potter-worthy Latin spell to fix the system that allowed Bartimaeus not only to languish there, but actively encouraged him to stay in his place. But that's not how the story goes.
When you look into the eyes of someone who's had all their basic human rights stolen, their dignity stripped away, treated like an object, not a human being, how can you turn your back? How can you not speak out and act?
Accepting the trafficking of women and girls as a norm coarsens our culture. In a recent address, our President said, "as a nation, we've long rejected such cruelty." Yet sadly, with each purchase of another human, we become that much more callous to the casual cruelty of trafficking.
There are more slaves in the world today than were taken from Africa in the four centuries of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade--over 27 million. Of those, two million are children exploited in the commercial sex trade.
This past December, I returned to Kolkata for the first time since 2004, this time with my husband, Kiran. Here is our story -- Kiran's photographs, my words -- of poverty, inspirational people, and, ultimately, hope.