You’re going about your day to day life when you meet a guy or girl who you really like, so you get chatting and you seem to get on really well. After a while you start going out and things just keep on going along happily. They seem really nice and keep on buying you presents to show you how much you mean to them. As it comes up to the summer the person you’ve been seeing suggests you go on holiday together which seems like a great idea, and they offer to sort everything out for you. In the airport you couldn’t be happier, with your partner even looking after your passport for you so you haven’t got anything to worry about. But when you arrive everything changes. They become angry and abusive and keep on telling you how much you owe them for the trip and everything they’ve bought you. They say they won’t return your passport until you’ve paid back the money you owe, but you don’t speak the local language and don’t know how to get a job. Fortunately, they say they can help you as they know someone who’s looking for an employee, so you take this, your only opportunity. It doesn’t take you long to realise this is no ordinary job, and before you know it you’re working as a domestic servant in someone’s house, performing criminal activities, stuck in a brothel… and you can’t see any way out.
You were trafficked.
It’s easier than you think to become a victim of human trafficking and it happens to hundreds of thousands of people each year. Not many people know about the dangers and the problem of human trafficking which only makes it worse. Many people believe it’s a problem they can’t relate to or could never affect them. I hope this makes you think again.
Human trafficking is the fastest growing international crime and there are many other facts and figures about trafficking I could throw at you, but beyond the statistics are the actual victims of trafficking: the people who have been deceived, taken from the ones they love, physically, mentally and sexually abused, and robbed of all their dignity. Their most basic human right has been taken away from them: the right to respect and to feel like a human being. Victims of trafficking are bought and sold like mere objects with no control over what is happening and no visible means of escape.
Sex trafficking is the most common form of trafficking which is why about 80% of people trafficked across borders are female. In Sheffield alone there are believed to be 42 brothels and it is thought that at least one girl in each has been trafficked. Other people are trafficked for domestic servitude, drugs cultivation, forced labour (such as on cocoa bean farms), removal of organs, forced marriage, illegal adoptions or armed conflicts. They are lured away from their homes on false promises by fake employment agencies, respected members of the community and close relatives. Some are just sold by their own family, possibly under the belief that their child is going to have a better life but possibly just because the family is so desperate for money.
This summer I was lucky enough to go to Cambodia with Tearfund and to try and help out their link charity CHO. A lot of the work CHO does is with women and children who have been trafficked, but meeting these women and kids, you’d never know. They were some of the happiest, friendliest, most welcoming people I’ve ever met and I can’t even imagine what they’ve been through. I am passionate about Stop the Traffik because I have seen the difference that can be made and I want to see more people smile like that. If you were at Momentum this year and went into the Soul Action cafe or visited the Soul Action stand, you would’ve seen the beautiful photos of smiling children. These are the children I am talking about and I feel very privileged to say I know some of them by name and have seen the way God’s love has transformed them. Stop the Traffik is not a Christian charity but it is a charity of compassion, something that Jesus showed wherever he went. At the moment the University of Sheffield Stop the Traffik society is a very tiny society that is in desperate need of more members, for people of compassion to take a stand for the people that cannot stand up for themselves. I believe I have been called to be one of these people and if you would like to join me please get in touch.
For more information or to get involved, go to www.stopthetraffik.org, email me at email@example.com or watch “I Am Slave” (www.channel4.com/programmes/i-am-slave/4od).