Elijah Rising houses the nation’s only museum dedicated to exposing the brutal realities of sexual slavery and exploitation. The museum, housed in a former brothel, displays a collection of artifacts and information from our fieldwork in the battle to end commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. Please note carefully: Exhibits may be too graphic for children. Parental guidance is strongly urged.
A Photo Essay of the Museum by our Executive Director, Micah Gamboa, can be accessed here: http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/dignity/
Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence is an open access, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal dedicated to publishing original articles on topics related to dignity, sexual exploitation, and violence.
By presenting research and artifacts in exhibits on forced prostitution around the world, the Museum of Modern-Day Slavery exposes injustice, testifies of the victories of abolitionists in history, and declares what God can do when ordinary people take action.
Monday – Thurdays 10AM – 5PM
Other days by appointment only. Please email us to schedule a tour we are more than happy to open the MMDS for yourself or your group.
5818 Southwest Freeway
Houston, TX 77057
The Beast Empires: The Ancient Roots of Sex Trafficking
Throughout human history, powerful empires have battled for control of the Levant. These nations helped civilize the west, but they also set in motion many of the practices of sexual exploitation that have persisted for centuries. This exhibit traces practices in the commercial sex trade through ancient history and helps set the stage for a deeper understanding of modern-day sex trafficking.
The Industrial Revolution: Prostitution in a Flourishing World Economy
Advancements in communication and transportation during the 18th and 19th centuries were the seeds that would ultimately flourish into a full-scale global economy where human commodities are bought and sold. This exhibit explores how the Industrial Revolution became the seedbed for state-supported, readily available erotic encounters around the world.
Voices in the Wilderness: Unsung Heroes in Abolition
We must shine the light on the obscure roots of the evil of sex trafficking – but how much more should we shine the light on the little-known heroes of abolition. There are a handful of luminaries in the dark sky of wickedness that demonstrated the swift and uncompromising response of God’s people to the slave markets that persisted long after the Thirteenth Amendment. This exhibit is designed to highlight these unsung heroes – not so that we may marvel at how extraordinary they were – but so that we may see that God’s ONLY plan is to use ordinary people to bring about His justice.
Josephine Butler and the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts
A vast network of complicity must persist if the commercial sex trade is to flourish. The Contagious Diseases Acts are a prime example of state sanctioning of sexual exploitation. Josephine Butler was the first to raise an outcry against The Acts. This exhibit reveals how governments have been part of the network of complicity, even while they legislate against slavery, and will bring to life Josephine Butler, the first star to arise in the darkness of sexual exploitation.
Blood and Fire: The Salvation Army and the Safe Home Movement
“Soup, soap and salvation,” was an early motto of the Salvation Army, but the earliest driving motivation of the Army was the rescue of “fallen women.” The Army fought the war against sexual exploitation through radical fasting and prayer. God answered their persistent prayer: the Salvation Army opened a safe home every three months for thirty years! Nineteenth century London witnessed Midnight Rescue Brigades, rigorous outreaches of Army cadets walking shoulder to shoulder, sweeping dark streets in search of exploited women and girls. This exhibit is a tribute to The Salvation Army and their place in the history of God’s clear and decisive breakthrough against slavery.
W.T. Stead and the Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon
The work of W.T. Stead was a triumph in investigative journalism that issued a resounding wake-up call that threw respectable nineteenth century Victorian London into a moral panic. Exposing vice under such headlines as, “The Violation of Virgins,” “Confessions of a Brothel Keeper,” and “Strapping Girls Down,” Stead burst onto the landscape with shocking revelations of the flesh trade and the exposure of officials who turned a blind eye. Stead himself served three months in prison for using unlawful methods to prove how easily girls could be bought, drugged and sold. This exhibit will bring to light The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon, the series of articles that shocked a nation, curbed corruption and changed laws.
Eliza Armstrong: Sold for £5 in 19th Century London
W. T. Stead used his journalistic sources to purchase thirteen-year-old Eliza Armstrong, have her drugged with opium, and sold to a brothel. Proving how quickly and easily the transaction was made, Stead provided a rude awakening to Victorian England. This exhibit brings to life the Eliza Armstrong case, for which Stead served prison time.
Katherine Bushnell and the Queens Daughters in India
Katherine Bushnell was an American missionary at the turn of the century when female missions leaders were quite rare. She started fighting injustice in the lumber camps in Wisconsin and Michigan where she discovered systemic abuse of young girls for prostitution. She presented evidence to the Wisconsin state legislature which contributed to breaking up a major sex trafficking ring. She ultimately helped pass legislation against prostitution in male-centered workforces. Her next challenge was in India where she helped expose the British High Command for subsidizing prostitution to the British forces in India, where exploited young Indian girls were called “the queens daughters.”
Donaldina Cameron: The Angry Angel of Chinatown
This exhibit brings to life the heroic Donaldina Cameron, who reached out to Chinese immigrants during the anti-Chinese furor in turn-of-the-century America. Thousands of Chinese girls were being abused in the twelve square blocks that made up San Francisco’s Chinatown. Brought over to cater to the all-male workforce during the Gold Rush and the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, these young Chinese girls had little hope of escape, unless they could make it to 920 Sacramento Street, one of the first safe homes to open “above the radar” in plain sight of the Tongs, the Chinese mafia that controlled Chinatown.
The Asian Commercial Sex Trade: Economic Desperation Meets Market Demand
Despite Donaldina’s heroic life, the exploitation of Asian women continues, eclipsing turn-of-the-century Chinatown. In fact, the museum is housed in a former Thai brothel, which is at the center of the densest concentration of Asian brothels in the city limits. Less than one mile from the museum headquarters is an innocuous patio home where ten Mandarin-speaking young girls have been discovered. This kind of exploitation thrives because it is hidden in the shadows. This exhibit will pull the cover off of the brothel trade and drive the reality of the exploitation of Asian women into the consciousness of our society.
Life in a Brothel: Live Security Camera Footage of the Living Area of a Brothel
In this exhibit, we replicate one of the sex rooms in a typical Asian brothel. This room is reconstructed from actual rooms we have been in, photographed, and mined for artifacts after they closed. There are thousands of such rooms all across the Houston area.
Online Prostitution and the Street Trade
Among the exhibits in this installation is a map of the United States on which we trace the circulation of a handful of girls we have identified on backpage.com, the largest online prostitution platform on the internet. Represented by different colored yarn, the map shows the circulation of girls as commodities along well-traveled trade routes.
Why Houston? The Deep Roots of Sex Trafficking on the Gulf Coast
We always point to the Big Five reasons why Houston is a hub for sex trafficking and sexual exploitation: 1. We are five hours from the border 2. We have a large, diverse population 3. We have many major sporting events 4. Two-thirds of the I-10 corridor lies in Texas, with Houston at the midpoint 5. We have the second largest shipping port in the U.S.
Life in a Cantina: Replica of a Sex Room in a Cantina
The cantina sex trade is one of the major factors that put Houston on the map for sex trafficking. A “pony bar” refers to the cantina business model that uses women to help sell beer to male clientele. Customers can purchase a beer for a regular price, or they can purchase a beer that comes with the waitress that serves it. The waitress’s job is to keep male clients drinking by drinking with them. These interactions frequently culminate with sex in a secret room within the cantina, all of which increases profits to the cantina. This exhibit exposes the trade in Latin American females that is taking place in cantinas all over the Houston area.
Mondragon and Rojas: The Largest Two Cantina Raids – Both in Houston!
Maximino Mondragon was the mastermind behind a cantina operation in Northwest Houston that held 120 women captive. Maria Rojas ran an operation in the Ship Channel area that controlled 84 women. Considered the largest and second largest cantina brothel raids ever documented, these two operations are typical of the cantina sex trade. By illuminating the inner workings of these operations, this exhibit will cast light on how Houston played unwitting host to two of the evilest sex traffickers on record.
A Five Hour Drive: The Exploitation of Women at the Border
The U.S. – Mexico border is a politically charged issue, and whether you consider the immigrants as “illegal aliens” or merely “undocumented newcomers,” the fact remains that the most exploited of the border crossers are women on their way to work off smuggling debts and pay second ransoms in cantinas all over Houston. This exhibit is reconstructed from first-hand experience on the border, where we found evidence of a “rape tree” and sophisticated smuggling routes where girls are moved on moonless nights across vast acres of Texas brush land.