The Exodus Road is only interested in funding itself and not the cause they say they are helping.
The Exodus Road has been continually criticized for their raid and arrest style strategy, including by many other human trafficking groups and human trafficking industry experts.
They call this search and rescue, similar organisations call it raid and rescue, and The Exodus Road also tells its donators these are rescue missions and portray their “covert operatives” the actual military speech they use, as hero’s fighting “evil” human traffickers. This strategy has stopped being used by most other human trafficking fighting organisations for many reasons, but not Exodus Road.
To be fair, it makes a great story, even if it is far from the actual truth in most, if not all, cases. It certainly inspires less worldly people to make donations and feel they are helping fight “evil” with visions of heroic and brave rescuers raiding a bar where staff is chained to walls and forced against their will to work.
It certainly has brought The Exodus Road major financial gain in the guise of donations, whereas organisations that truly do a significant amount of the more “boring” real rescue and aftercare work get a fraction of the donations but make a much bigger impact on stopping real human trafficking.
The truth is, as has been covered many times such as here, most of these dramatic “rescues”, if not all, of Exodus Road “rescuing” involve underage girls of 16-17 who wanted to work in the sex industry and used fake or sisters ids, knowing exactly what they were doing and with the ability to leave bars at any time. There are even accusations that The Exodus Road has planted these underage girls in bars themselves with sophisticated fake ids to get raid and rescue convictions and more donations.
Other organisations have criticized The Exodus Road for this strategy, saying they are punishing venues which actually tried to follow the laws and do the right thing, often with human trafficking sentences of ten to fifteen years and hundreds of thousands of dollars of fines.
I want to be clear, underage girls absolutely should not be in this industry and I absolutely do not support them doing so, as does nearly every legitimate bar owner and business. The Exodus Road spends a significant amount of time working with law enforcement and police and there may be situations when this partnership for raids are needed, although most other anti human trafficking feel it is not.
A question often asked is why doesn’t The Exodus Road offer it’s expertise and training to owners and operators in the sex industry, legitimate businesses and venues, and help train them on stopping human trafficking, identifying fake IDs and girls using others ids, and build partnerships between business owners wanting to do the right thing versus treat them as the enemy?
This could be an invaluable partnership and could also help stop underage girls working by using fake information. Many other organisations that fight human trafficking and fight for sex worker rights, like SWING or The Freedom Story, build partnerships with legitimate business owners and work with them, versus against them, to stop human trafficking and prevent minors from working in bars with shady tactics.
Certainly, if a venue is actually actively and knowingly recruiting minors for working in the sex industry or holding and forcing staff to work against their will law enforcement should be involved and those business owners punished. But the truth is, the majority of the raid and rescue operations are nothing like this and came from fake IDs or sister IDs or “alleged” plants. A partnership and training from an organisation with experience and mature information sharing could truly stop minors working in bars and identify the good players from the bad players.
The truth is, however, The Exodus Road is against prostitution in general, which is why working with the industry or fighting for full legalisation of prostitution in countries like Thailand is not something they are interested in (as it would hurt donations from religious individuals), despite proof that it significantly helps stop corruption and human trafficking. Officially Exodus Road says they are not against consenting adult prostitution, but unofficially they don’t have a choice as the majority of their donors are strongly religious church goers who believe they are doing the right thing and helping stop evil.
In reality, the only thing the donors are doing sadly is putting people in jail, sometimes for decades, for being fooled or misled by fake IDs and lining the pockets of people who use what they know is obviously a cover story and twist it into “heroic and dangerous” rescues like in the movie Taken.
We hope you take a look at some of the other material here, ask some questions, and come to your own conclusions. We strongly support all legitimate anti-human trafficking efforts and could not more strongly support not having minors in this industry. But we also support clear and transparent processes for stopping human trafficking.