The Hidden World of Sex Trafficking
Posted on 29 October 2012
On Saturday November 3rd, Sheer teams up with jewelry designer Edge of Ember to present a charity fashion show.
Sex trafficking is “a modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years." (Source: US Dept of Health and Human services). The TVPA recognizes that traffickers use psychological and well as physical coercion and bondage, and it defines coercion to include: threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person.
Here is a story of a girl from one of our charities, Daughters of Cambodia.
'When I was fourteen, I came to Phnom Penh to work as a housemaid in the home of wealthy Cambodians because my parents were poor and they had left home to find work in Thailand. My employers didn't pay me a salary, but gave me two meals per day.
Then the husband began to make advances towards me so I ran away. I had no job and no money. I met a girl working in a Karaoke bar who offered me a job. The job involved sitting with customers and playing CDs for them to sing.
But all the customers liked me and tried to touch me on my legs. If I objected, they threatened to call the bar owner and demand that I lose my job. They would make derogatory comments saying, 'why can't we touch you? We have a right to touch you because you are cheap. This is what you are here for'.
One customer asked me to go to a guesthouse with him, and I refused. But he had a gun which he pointed at me, and threatened to shoot my legs if I did not go, so I had no choice. The bar owner never intervened because this was a normal occurrence in these places, it happened all the time.
After that it was often like that, I had little choice about who I had to have sex with because they were wealthy or threatened me. I was filled with pain in my heart. It was so hard to bear. Customers often made derogatory comments to me; they did not care if I was crying and if I asked them to stop they would not. If I asked them to wear a condom they said they would rape me. There were customers who pinched and twisted my skin and some hit me. There was nobody willing to help me and I cried alone every night with no one to care about me. I started to think I was crazy. I was often so depressed; I felt I had no worth or value and my life was cheap. I cannot describe the pain.
Since I came to work at Daughters, I feel I am living a different life, like I am a different person. I used to cry at night and be unable to sleep; now I still cry but then I pray to God and I feel peace and am able to sleep. At Daughters I find comfort and strength, the staff value me, I have close friends and I know many people here love me and care about me. And I can talk to people here if I feel bad. I feel loved."
Victims of Sex Trafficking and What They Face
Victims of sex trafficking can be women or men, girls or boys, but the majority are women and girls. There are a number of common patterns for luring victims into situations of sex trafficking, including:
- A promise of a good job in another country
- A false marriage proposal turned into a bondage situation
- Being sold into the sex trade by parents, husbands, boyfriends
- Being kidnapped by traffickers
Sex traffickers use a variety of methods to “condition” their victims including starvation, confinement, beatings, physical abuse, rape, gang rape, threats of violence to the victims and the victims’ families, forced drug use and the threat of shaming their victims by revealing their activities to their family and their families’ friends.
Victims face numerous health risks. Physical risks include drug and alcohol addiction; physical injuries (broken bones, concussions, burns, vaginal/anal tearings); traumatic brain injury (TBI) resulting in memory loss, dizziness, headaches, numbness; sexually transmitted diseases (e.g., HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, UTIs, pubic lice); sterility, miscarriages, menstrual problems; other diseases (e.g., TB, hepatitis, malaria, pneumonia); and forced or coerced abortions.
Types of Sex Trafficking
Victims of trafficking are forced into various forms of commercial sexual exploitation including prostitution, pornography, stripping, live-sex shows, mail-order brides, military prostitution and sex tourism.
How You Can Help
Join Sheer and Edge of Ember in their efforts to raise HK $100,000 to support three organizations in Cambodia and Nepal dedicated to combating sex trafficking of young girls. All proceeds will be used towards rescue work and providing food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and skills training so these girls can support their families and leave the sex industry for good.
To find out more about our event and the charities, visit www.oneticketonegirl.com.
Help us spread the word and invite your friends to come... have fun and support our cause!
[information: acf.hhs.gov // images: Ira Gelb/Flickr, Daughters of Cambodia, Flickr, ifuw.org]