Monday, April 3, 2006

Hundreds of Trafficking Victims' Stories Online

In the fight against sex trafficking and all the compulsory statistics and numbers that accompany the research and education, there is nothing so compelling as a first-person account from a victim to make us remember why we are in this fight in the first place, moving us to action on their behalf. and the Polaris Project have collected hundreds of personal testimonies from trafficking victims in 50 countries.

Their stories are harrowing and heartbreaking: From Juliana in Ghana who was given to a holy man by her family at the age of 6 and was forced to provide him sexual services while enslaved in a shrine for 17 years, to Eleni in Bosnia who even after being beaten so badly by her boss that she couldn't stand was still forced to have sex with customers; her boss told her: "You are lying down anyway so you can still work for me."

The testimony of Gun, a Thai woman trafficked to Japan and sold three times into sexual slavery, reads like a dramatic movie plot:
“I was told by an acquaintance to work at his restaurant in Japan. I decided to accept his offer as I thought my family might improve their life if I sent them my salary. Soon after my arrival in Japan, I realized that I was sold. My life since then has been like that of an animal.

I was sold three times. I begged my last owner to let me go home but she said I owed her lots of money that I had to pay back by sleeping with customers. I was always scolded and forced to do all kinds of terrible things.

It is impossible to describe how horrible and miserable my life was. For six and a half months, I was totally controlled by her. Every day I had to go out and sleep with men. I had no physical or spiritual freedom. She threatened that wherever I escaped to, I would be traced and killed and so would my parents in Thailand.What I did was the only way to set me free from her. There was no other alternative.”

This letter was written by Gun, a 25-year-old Thai woman from an impoverished rural family, to her Japanese lawyer. In 1991, she and two Thai friends escaped from their captor by stabbing her to death. They fled with her bag, thinking it contained their passports. They did not know that in the bag there was seven million yen ($80,000) in cash. They were arrested the same night. In 1994, the prosecutor charged them with premeditated murder and they received a life sentence—though due to international campaigns and petitions their imprisonment was reduced and they are now serving their last year in prison...

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