From 25 November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), to 10 December (Human Rights Day) a 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign allows people to capture the challenges women face through active campaigning and events.
In support of the campaign, the African Democratic Institute (ADI) will run a photo series of everyday women depicting various forms of sexual and gender-based violence inflicted against women and children, in order toHonour raise awareness and encourage dialogue on methods of combating them.
Human Trafficking is the illegal movement of people, typically for the purposes of forced labour or commercial sexual exploitation.
Story: Anya (not her real name) grew up in a very poor country where there were few opportunities for advancement. When she was seventeen years old, a friend of a friend told her she could get a well-paid job as a waitress in Europe and could train to become a hair-dresser. She was introduced to an agent who paid for her to get a passport and arranged her travel costs. She arrived at an Irish airport on a weekend when security was lax, and was met by somebody she did not know. He took her passport and brought her to a house occupied by two other women from abroad. Very soon she discovered that the ‘job’ she was to do was to provide sexual services for men on a 24/7 basis. When she objected, her ‘minder’ beat her up. He then went on to rape her.
He warned her that she was an illegal immigrant and that he had her passport. He then left her locked up to ‘think things over’, as he said. He also reminded her that she owed him €3,000 to cover the cost of her travel and said her family at home would suffer if she did not earn that money quickly. The other women advised her that if she went to the authorities she would be sent back to her own country at once — and she knew that the €3,000 would then be demanded from her family. Anya felt she was left with no choice but to agree to prostitute herself at least for a time. She felt confident that one of the men who came to her for sex would listen to her story and would help her.
However, she soon found that she was not allowed to stay long enough in any town or city to find her way around and get to know people. Each week she had to move to a different location. Furthermore, she found that the men who came looking for sex had no interest in her story or in her as a person. They made it clear that they simply wanted ‘good value for money’. They wanted her to pretend to be excited by the sex and to enjoy it. Many of them also demanded perverted forms of sex, and sex without any protection. Whenever she failed to give them what they demanded they complained to the pimp and he beat her up again. Some of the ‘customers’ linked sex with violence, and at times she was seriously injured.
Anya was given a mobile phone and she had hoped to use it to contact some friend to rescue her from her slavery. But she found she could use it only to receive calls from ‘clients’ or from her pimp-manager. Even when she was allowed out she was too scared to talk or to seek help from anybody. Anya now finds herself trapped — tied down, not physically, but effectively imprisoned by her fear and by being cut off from any help. She has been silenced and can see no escape.
She is deeply ashamed, blaming herself for what has happened to her. She has been severely damaged at a psychological level and is now in a very depressed state. She is also beginning to suspect that she has become infected with HIV/AIDS as a result of unprotected sex.
She is sliding into a state of deep depression. As you read this, there are hundreds of trafficked women in Ireland in a state similar to that of Anya. Are you willing to challenge this situation? Will you join the ‘Demand Campaign’ which will soon be launched, calling for the government to tackle the problem of trafficking of women for prostitution by making it illegal to buy sex — as has been done so effectively in Sweden and some other Baltic countries?