Imagine a young woman. I will call her Lily. She lives with her mother and her little boy. A man comes into her life. He can see how she is struggling to make a living, working two jobs to support her family. He courts her and convinces her he is in love with her. He then invites her to visit him, promising to marry her and end her miserable days of never having enough. Enough money, enough food, enough rest. Innocent as she is and totally besotted with him, she goes. Little does she know that it is all a lie…
Somewhere else lives this beautiful and intelligent creature. I will call her Rose. Barely sixteen years of age, she is innocent, hopeful and dreaming of a glamorous future as a model. A modelling agency visits her school. Excited to finally realise her dream she auditions and of course she is taken on board. She accepts the offer to travel to a new land and is thrilled to have made it into the career of her choice. She expresses her concern that she does not have a passport and is told by the modelling agency that they will take care of everything. She creeps out of her house in the middle of the night, leaving her father whom she considers old-fashioned and unadventurous, oblivious of her destination or her fate. If only she knew…
Another little girl, only nine years old is on holiday with her mother. I will call her Orchid. She is excited to be soaking in the exotic surroundings of their chosen destination. She is fascinated by all that she sees around her when suddenly she finds herself being dragged away by huge burly men into a truck. And so ends her days of innocence…
The last girl I want you to meet is really young. I will call her Daisy. Pretty and really tiny she lives on her family’s plot of land surrounded by wild vegetation and the sound of the sea. They are a poor family and they struggle to make it from day to day but she does not care. Why would she when she is surrounded by so much beauty. A man comes to her house and convinces her father to sell her to him. And so her father does sell her to this man because he has too many mouths to feed. The man takes her away and she will never return…
Suddenly these women and girls find themselves as sex slaves. They are drugged, used, abused, and assaulted. They are forced to sleep with 12 men each, every day. Rose is forced to be the 'star' in a pornographic movie. They all cannot escape. They are threatened with the death of their families if they even try. They become pieces of property for the owner of the business. This man makes a quarter of a million, yes $250 000 US per week out of selling the bodies of these young women. They get nothing. All that remains is just bruises; wounded and destroyed souls.
Indeed these are but some of the scenarios that victims of human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation face. It is a horrible crime against humanity that is committed by people with no heart against innocent women and children. It is an industry for sexual perverts, pedophiles and vile spirited individuals. Most of them look just like the normal person on the street, you would not suspect them of harbouring such evil thoughts and intentions in their heads. The people in this industry make a lot of money to such an extent that trafficking is regarded as the second largest industry, next to drug trafficking.
The important thing is to know that human trafficking could happen to anyone- rich or poor, educated or not. Any one of these girls could be your sister, your daughter, your friend, your niece or just any girl. Young girls and women aged between 15 & 21 face the greatest risk because the business demands that they be young, attractive and therefore marketable.
As the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in persons, especially Women and Children defines it, trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons for the purposes of exploitation. This can be done by threats or use of force, coercion, abduction, deception, abuse of power by a person in a position of authority against vulnerable individuals or paying off someone who has guardianship rights over someone else to give you access to the person they should protect. Trafficking occurs usually because there is an abuse of trust by a lover as in Lily’s case, a potential employee as Rose’s experience shows, society in general as shown by Orchid’s abductors and close family or friends as was the case in Daisy’s story.
Trafficking is not only conducted for purposes of sexual exploitation. Women and children can be trafficked for purposes of domestic servitude, forced marriage, forced labor in mining, fishing, and agriculture or some other industry.
A few lucky victims of trafficking manage to escape or to get rescued but even then they still face many problems. They may have nightmares, partial memory loss, or suffer from dementia as a consequence of their trauma. Usually they face enormous difficulties fitting back into the ‘normal’ society life because often we alienate, stigmatise and exclude them socially. Many of us do not tolerate them and dismiss them as prostitutes or drug abusers because more often than not as victims of trafficking they are forcefully injected with drugs to impair their judgement.
Let us keep in mind that the demand for the products of trafficking fuels the continued supply of women and children. So if we all could advocate abstinence from pornographic material, most strip tease clubs, from prostitution [and here I am excluding what some people could describe as prostitution but would be in fact commercial sex work-it is different because it is consensual and made by individuals who have the free choice to engage in it] we would make great strides in reducing trafficking. If we spread the word we could save the lives of a few young women who could be duped or tricked into trafficking. Let us help them not to fall into these traps.
Let us be part of the solution and support our fellow sisters by affirming their rights as victims instead of revictimising them and labelling them when they return or are amongst us. Let us help them to reintegrate into our society. Their experiences are horrendous and they need us to rekindle the flame of humanity in them.
[The descriptions of the girls above fit my own understanding of the plot of a film called Human Trafficking. This film captures and exposes the gory details involved in trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation and I urge all of you to watch this movie, if you have not done so already]
For more information on trafficking also visit the following sites: