Highway to Hell: The Road Where Childhoods are Stolen by Matt Roper
Injustice, human trafficking, sex slaves, all these words have a ring to our ears that is neither pleasant nor helpful in human flourishing. Traveling down Brazil’s highway, BR-116, journalist Matt Roper and singer Dean Brody didn’t expect they’d find miles and miles of roads filled with men seeking sex from young girls who are trapped in prostitution. Not only is the is the situation bleak but many times the very family members who are supposed to protect and provide for their young girls push them out in the streets to make money by selling their bodies. Sickening, this drama plays out each day and each night on the long stretch of road winding through Brazil. This book, Highway to Hell, is Matt and Brody’s experience first-hand with the ravages of prostitution along BR-116 and the hope that they might be a part of a change for the better, for these girls and for their families.
Take Josilene, for instance, a fifteen year old girl who loves to hang out with her friends. Yet, her friends offer her no hope for her life. “The girls would stop by late at night, take Josilene out of her bed, and go off to thumb for lifts on the motorway. Sometimes she would be gone for days, ending up hundreds of miles away. Josilene’s “friends”, it appeared, would make her pay for the journey with her own body.” (153) Here Mom continually has tried to push her away from these friends but the pull to fit into a group and be part of something is so great. As the news came that her Dad, whom she’d never met was possibly in another town, Matt and Dean agreed to pick up Josilene in the morning for the trip. Come morning time, Josilene was nowhere to be seen but with her friends in town down the road. It is the life of those caught in the midst of slavery that breaks our hearts, yet freeing them takes a huge amount of people.
Matt and Dean could not go back to their respective homes without telling the world of this horrific world of enslavement and sex trading that was going on in Brazil. Matt taught a number of YWAM groups about the situation on BR-116 and interest was soon sparked enough to have groups committed to helping these towns along the highway. Yet, the distressing thing was getting people to see that child prostitution needs to be stopped. One lady named Rita comments in the book that, “Child prostitution’s just part of life here,” Rita told us. People who have grown up here don’t see it like you and I do, even the Christians. Most people have stopped seeing it at all.” (168) Failing to see the gross injustice and degradation of human life is not something we should stop seeing as Christians. Yet, this is the kind of view that people take when they are comfortable in their own skin, not looking after others.
Thanks to Monarch Books and Kregel Publications for the copy of this in exchange for an honest review.