Sometimes I can be very impulsive– I am stirred easily by things I see or read. It is not uncommon for me to see a movie on doctors and want to be one or read a book about space travel and consider NASA. Coupled with a self esteem and belief that I can do anything, thanks mom and dad, it is amazing that I have not actually chased after all these dreams at once.
In light of this, and the fact that I have watched the first two seasons of Alias in the past month, its is not surprising that I found myself drawn to the organization APLE. APLE, which stands for Action Pour Les Enfants, is a human rights organization that combats sexual exploitation of children. While they have many programs, such as pro-bono legal aid and social rehabilitation, it was an article on their field investigators that caught my attention.
Like Sydney Bristow, these social workers are out to catch the “bad guys” (read western pedophiles) by following them and covertly collecting evidence. “Part sleuth, part spy, these social workers are the street presence in the battle against child sexual abuse.” They work, often in the nights between 5pm and midnight, in many of the hangouts where western men lure and buy children. APLE’s network also includes many others who help collect evidence including locals, expats, and even children themselves.
Though they collect evidence and have secret identities and hidden cameras, they never directly confront the perpetrators. There main goal is to collect enough evidence to bring it to the police. Some perpetrators are trailed for only two hours before enough evidence is collected– others take months. Regardless, the information gathered is priceless. According to a police chief of the juvenile protection unit most cases presented by APLE are taken.
The Alias watching part of my mind sees the glamor in all this; even the satisfaction in knowing that pedophiles are being taken off the street. The other part of my mind though wonders if I could do it. How do you look at depravity every night and then go home to your children (I don’t have children yet– but let’s imagine) and kiss them, put them in bed, and believe that the world is a good place for them? How do you compartmentalize your emotions enough to interact with the men and not let the repugnance shine through? In the end, I simply find myself in awe of the work they do– and although I am saddened that it must be done, I am glad someone is doing it.