An Open Letter to Justin Bieber

An Open Letter to Justin Bieber November 12, 2013

By Michelle Brock


Dear Justin,

I recently met a Brazilian woman who used to sell sex to wealthy businessmen, dignitaries, and celebrities. Some might call her a “high class prostitute.” She initially entered the trade in a desperate attempt to feed her children, and she made great money as one of the brothel favorites. But she never saw much of it – “third parties” always found a way to leave her with nothing.

Eventually, she was promised a better life in Switzerland, but upon arriving she was forced to work in a legal brothel. She suffered through horrific conditions that nearly killed her. She wept as she told me her story. Then I read about your recent visit to a Brazilian brothel.

It broke my heart.

As a fellow Canadian, I believe that one is innocent until proven guilty. I realize that the media isn’t always accurate, and that where there’s smoke there isn’t necessarily fire. But if, indeed, you have been spending your time and money on commercial sex, I beg you, Justin, to reconsider.

A few years ago, I watched an interview where your mom talked about her childhood. She opened up about the sexual abuse in her past, and the lack of worth she felt as a result. In her teen years, she caught herself thinking that prostitution would be an easy way to make money. She didn’t go down that road, but she came close. Your mom explained in the interview that she totally understood how young women in vulnerable situations consider prostitution as a viable option to survive. A disproportionate number of people in prostitution are there because of lack of choice, not because of choice.

My husband and I just released a new documentary on trafficking and prostitution, and we actually considered reaching out to your mom – she’s been an amazing example of someone who overcame amazing odds to create a good life for you – and we thought she’d be a great advocate for the film and our mission.

Now take a moment to imagine if your own mother had entered the life of prostitution. Can you even imagine it? Chances are you wouldn’t be where you are today. Really, really, think about it. Homelessness, drugs, constant danger, a ravaged mother, maybe an abusive pimp, who knows. Raised in that environment, you could have ended up, dare I say, exploiting women yourself.

Women like my new Brazilian friend are trafficked for one simple reason- men with money are willing to pay for them. Why would you ever want to do that to someone else’s mother? Or daughter, or sister, or friend? You’re bigger than that, aren’t you?

I once heard a talk by Andy Stanley, to a group of influential leaders in Atlanta. A question he asked has stuck with me for years:

What do you do when you realize you are the most powerful person in the room?

Justin, my hope and prayer for you is that you will begin to steward your power on behalf of those who don’t have any – maybe you were given your position for such a time as this.

Michelle Brock is the co-founder of Hope for the Sold, an abolitionist charity that seeks to end human trafficking one word at a time. She is currently touring around North America, speaking and screening her new documentary Red Light Green Light.

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  • Roma Jenco

    I am sure you mean well Ms. Brock, but the last thing Justin Bieber needs is yet more guilt laid on him, or dragging a hypothetical about his mother into your argument.

    This kid has been criticized for months. Firstly, it’s none of your business, or mine, if he steps into a brothel, and we also don’t know (nor should we), if he slept with anyone.

    Save your judgment for yourself, your own thoughts and your own actions and allow others the liberty of making their own mistakes and living their own lives, Canadian or not.

    • cfroisland

      Because Biebs has been unfairly picked on exempts him from being a decent human being (especially one who claims to love Jesus)? Or is Biebs exempt because he’s the cutest of the rich vile men who are engaged in or connected with sex trafficking?

      The “liberty” you want to protect probably sounds more like tyranny when you’re being sexually exploited.

      • Roma Jenco

        He’s an 19-year-old who was seen coming out of a brothel. You have no idea what he did in there, yet are engaging in “idle gossip.”

        Regarding your other points, it’s not for you, me, or anyone else to question someone else’s relationship with Jesus. Perhaps you’re not familiar with this concept, but Jesus’ constituency is the sinners – not the smugly perfect.

        As for wider sexual exploitation questions, if you want to lay a centuries old “profession” at Bieber’s door just because he’s in the headlines and you’re too lazy to identify the real perpetrators, I’d say you’ve got “tyranny ” all sewn up.

        • cfroisland

          You’re right, he probably went to the brothel to play PS3 or for a book club, he certainly didn’t go there (with at least the intent) to pay for sex. I’m not engaged in idle gossip–I didn’t make this up, and I didn’t even start the conversation–I simply made the most logical inference to be made when a person leaving a brothel tries to hide their identity. I further raised the question whether you would feel this way if it were John Doe coming out of the brothel, or if Biebs gets a pass for being Biebs.

          As for your Jesus, it absolutely is the job of the church to discipline brothers and sisters who do (or appear to have) done something that is not merely a matter of human failing–but a premeditated (like finding a brothel, getting some cash, calling the body guards, leaving the hotel…) overt sin that makes a mockery of grace (1 Cor 5 for instance). Furthermore, it’s the REPENTANT sinners who are Jesus’s constituency–that means owning your sins and turning away from them–not sweeping them under the “he’s 19 years old” rug. Of the sinners in Jesus’s constituency, I’m chief among them, but your ad hominem argument doesn’t change the fact that Biebs needs to step up and make this right.

          Finally, I didn’t “lay a centuries old profession” at Bieb’s door, and I don’t see how my work ethic is relevant (another ad hominem). I was using wordplay to point out that when we excuse people’s mistakes under the banner of liberty–we’ve already lost liberty.

          • Roma Jenco

            You still don’t get it. It’s not about Bieber, it’s about you not projecting your blame and need to judge on others.

            While you’re sitting there spewing out what can only be described as near incoherent rage about someone you’ve NEVER MET, what’s happening to your own shadow, own demons, and own shortcomings?

            Why, they’re put on a back-burner of course, because that’s what projection and vicious judgment allows us the delusion to do.

            Get your own house in order and leave a 19-year-old be.

  • Guest

    Michelle, you are well-meaning but there are sex workers who are not trafficked people and who engage in their work of their own volition. Moreover, they can be decent parents and their children are not by default placed on some slippery slope to ruin. I have friends who are sex workers and they would object to being painted as victims and as potentially unfit parents by virtue of their profession. The criminalisation of sex work is far more harmful to sex workers than the clients.

    “Homelessness, drugs, constant danger, a ravaged mother, maybe an abusive pimp, who knows.” Who knows? Not you, I’m afraid, when you’re painting with that broad a brush.