By Julia Randall
A man stuck at sea, deceived and forced to labor long days under a hot Pacific sun. A domestic servant who hasn’t seen the world outside the home where she works in almost a year. A child who waits anxiously, unaware of what’s in store for her, as the price of her virginity is negotiated. Despite different backgrounds and situations, these individuals are bound together by the chains of slavery and fates they did not choose. Participate in Human Trafficking Awareness month by refusing to look away from the stories of those trapped in trafficking.
When he couldn’t find work in his native country in Asia, Troy* scraped together everything he could to pay a broker to find him work in a neighboring country. When he arrived at his destination, however, he found it wasn’t the pineapple canning factory he’d been told about. Instead, he was driven to a coastal port town and forced on a tiny, ramshackle boat to join other forced laborers in working 20 hours a day, seven days a week, hauling in nets heavy with fish before gutting and weighing them by hand.
Troy was told that his payment hadn’t covered his transportation costs, so he must work until he could repay his debt. However, he has yet to receive any payment. Shifted from boat to boat out at sea, he hasn’t seen land in almost three years.
When she was seventeen, Angeline* lived on the crowded streets of a city in India, in desperate need of food and shelter. Homeless after being kicked out of her home for disgracing her family, Angeline was elated when a woman claiming to be a recruiter offered her a job cleaning and caring for children in a well-to-do home in an upscale suburb. When the door of the home that would become her jail was closed and locked behind her, so was her freedom and future.
Five years later, Angeline works 18 hours a day, every day of the week, performing a slew of household tasks. If her work doesn’t meet her owner’s standards, she can expect a physical punishment and her body bears the scars of past mistakes, like the time she burned the rice, or when she tried to run away.
Tina* sits quietly in a stiflingly small and dirty room in a Cambodian brothel, wishing she could disappear. She was smuggled from her home in Malaysia to this brothel a week ago, after her parents sold her to a trafficker. She is an intelligent and feisty girl, but nothing in her rural upbringing prepared her for the forced sale of her virginity. She doesn’t know the language used by her new mama san (pimp) and the men interested in her, but she can tell from their tones and gestures that they are all evaluating her and bargaining fiercely.
After the final sale of her virginity today, Tina will be less valuable to her mama san but will continue to be forced to work in the brothel. She’s not yet turned 12.
Troy, Angeline and Tina are not alone. More slaves exist today than at any other time in human history. Be an abolitionist by sharing this post to participate in Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Use your voice to stand against slavery and share information from our website, Pinterest boards, Twitter account and Facebook page. You can also find information to share on Instagram, You Tube, and Vimeo.
You can impact stories like these by taking a first step towards action by advocacy. Advocacy is utilizing your influence and voice on behalf of a cause or person you care about. Would you consider sharing online this post or any other interesting article or video about human trafficking with your circle of friends and family? The first step towards mobilizing a movement lies in educating people about it.
* Names and identifying information have been changed for security. Each account is a composite profile of multiple human trafficking survivors.