It’s hard to criticize International Justice Mission. One’s character comes into question when shitting on anything that stands vehemently opposed to human trafficking, freeing the exploited and seeking justice against the bad men who exploit them.
But they’re doing it wrong.
Thanks to Stuff Christian Culture Likes, this came to light. It appears IJM has teamed up with some sort of clothing company to swarm Rwanda with attractive, mostly white female “storytellers” to end sadness by promoting ethical consumerism. And *you* can be part of the team by writing an essay and hounding your friends into clicking on a picture of your face a bunch of times. An exercise in abject narcissism to earn the privilege of serving others.
The fucking audacity.
Everything stated in that contest is more or less IJM’s core mission. Train former prostitutes to perform menial labor, teach westerners to spend some of their extra income on their trinkets. Teletubbie capitalism, positively heartwarming.
No doubt IJM has gotten some people out of truly abhorrent conditions, but what they stress as “economic opportunity” shines a different shade of exploitation. Out of the brothel and into the sweatshop, at least they’re not fucking for money anymore.
This focus on the awful spectacle of shame and degradation in the Third World brothel saps the attention from everything else. Do we really care about the women and girls after they’re carried out of the whore house by police in riot gear? Or does that sole image contain the salve for our collective guilt, a cinematic instant that is really more about we Western observers than the bodily and emotional wellbeing of the woman weeping into the arms of a kevlar-clad cop? Do these women become anything more to us than pawns in our own egotistical currents of guilt and absolution?
I have no doubt that IJM’s intentions are pure, but they’re slapping a band-aid on a cancer patient.