News / Africa

Trafficking Victims Speak for the Voiceless

Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery the United Nations says operates everywhere in the world. U.N. officials say trafficking of men, women and children for labor and sexual exploitation is the fastest growing source of profit for organized crime.

Human trafficking is widely practiced and vastly underreported. No one knows how many people are victimized because of the secret nature of this nefarious trade. But, the International Labor Organization estimates 700,000 to four million people are trafficked across international borders each year.

Human trafficking is relatively risk-free because it usually is the victim and not the victimizer who is regarded as the criminal and prosecuted. To redress this wrong, the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva invited several trafficking survivors to relate their first-hand experiences and to act as the voice for the voiceless.

The experiences of the victims are individually and painfully felt. But there are common threads that run through all of their stories. Victims fall prey to traffickers who may be people they trust - parents, neighbors, friends and relatives. All go abroad in the hope for a better life.

"I come from New York. I went to the United States thinking that I was going to be working as a nanny and I ended up being a prostitute, not by my choice," said Kikka Cerpa. "Somebody else put me to do it."

It was Kikka's boyfriend who persuaded her to leave Venezuela in 1992 and go to New York. She went to live with her boyfriend's cousin and a friend. She says they beat her and raped her and forced her to work as a prostitute to pay off her boyfriend's debts.

She says she lived as a prostitute for three years and was helped to escape by a customer, who then forced her to become his personal slave. She says she lived with him for 10 years and had two daughters.

"And, I could never leave him because every time that I tried to leave, he said that he will use my criminal conviction and he will have me deported from the United States and I would never visit my daughters anymore," said Kikka.

Kikka finally did escape. She sought a court order of protection. Instead, she says her daughters were taken away from her and she was accused of being a criminal.

Eventually, with the help of an organization, Sanctuary for Families, she says she managed to free herself from the pimps and madams who had controlled her life.

Charlotte Awino's story is different, but no less compelling. She was 14-years old when the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army abducted her in 1996 from her boarding school.

"We were taken away from the school campus heading nowhere," she said. "Walking the whole time. Made to carry baggage. And, we were taken to southern Sudan and all that time there was raping, working in the gardens, digging, carrying luggage, being a slave, being beaten was the order of the day and threats. If you want to escape definitely you were killed."

Charlotte says she was held as a sex slave for eight years. She was 22 years old and had two children when she finally managed to escape. She says she remains haunted by the memories of those lost, traumatic years.

"I am not here just to, you know, visit Geneva or anything. I am here to represent the victims of trafficking where they do not have a voice," said Charlotte. "No one is there for them. And, nothing is being done, even if they escape back home. Since no one cares, I am just here to be a voice of the voiceless and ask the world to do something for such victims."

Unlike the previous victims, Kumar Ramjali describes how he was trafficked for labor exploitation. He says a Jordanian company recruited him in his native Nepal in 2004 to work in America.

Unfortunately, Kumar says he soon realized he had been duped with the promise of a good job and good money. Instead of going to America, he says he was sent to Iraq where he ended up working at a U.S. military base against his will. He says his passport was confiscated and he was not allowed to leave for four years.

Jana Kohut, who was born in Bosnia, is now a human-rights advocate against trafficking. She speaks about the suffering of victims from personal experience.

In 2004, while living in Croatia, she says she was trafficked for sexual exploitation in neighboring Slovenia. She says she was tricked by a female friend and consequently abducted, raped and forced to work as a prostitute until she managed to escape in 2005.

She says she is now devoting her life to seeing that other women do not experience the same fate.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid