Global Issues: Web
Author: Sailea Nerid
Tim was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He didn’t remember his father. His mom worked at two places and Tim was used to staying alone for long hours, locked in their apartment. Sometimes men used to live in their home but never for too long. Some of them were kind, some of them pretended Tim didn’t exist, and there was a third kind that were, in Tim’s words, complete bastards. One of them locked Tim outside for hours until his mom got back home, another one split the boy’s lip when he found out there was no juice left. Tim’s mom didn’t help a lot, she was often numb and drunk and the last thing she wanted to deal with was her son’s complaints. This taught Tim he cannot trust his family. He was often bullied at school because he was small and Asian, apparently both of those were unforgivable sins. He started skipping school regularly and spent hours walking the streets and looking at the shop windows. Sometimes he went to a bar close to home where the bar tender was friendly and allowed him to stay till 9 or 10 in the evening when he just needed to go home. It was better to be inside then out, Tim used to think. He found out that humiliating himself before the local drunks could earn him some spare change. Little by little he started to feel comfortable in this place and even made some friends. Keith was two years older and in Tim’s opinion he knew how to survive in this world. When Tim was 14, Keith showed him how to pickpocket some folks in the local mall. The police officers never managed to catch Keith, unlike Tim who ended up in the police station at least four times. Luckily the stolen things were not expensive and most people didn’t press charges. One of them, however, did it and Tim was sitting at a table seeping a beer grimly and thinking about the court hearing he was to attend in a week. He really enjoyed the feeling of being alone, enjoying some booze he purchased illegally and having problems to think about. It felt like he was all grown up. ‘Tim, my man, what’s up!’, said Keith sitting next to his friend. Tim groaned something incomprehensible. ‘Yeah, I got you buddy!’ Keith laughed. ‘You know I think you should just get away from here and start somewhere new, without those troubles and your mom nagging all the time.’ ‘Yeah, sure, I will just move to my mansion in LA,’ Tim replied sarcastically. ‘Don’t be a jerk, I know someone who can help you get quite a lot of money.’ It turned out Keith was quite serious. He introduced Tim to a man named Karl who explained to Tim it’s a very serious job in Europe, a job that required a young dedicated man who is not suspicious looking. The money he offered Tim was amazing. He didn’t care if he needed to sell drugs or candies, he didn’t care as long as he got the few thousands they offered him, plus he was just dying to see new places. Tim didn’t bother saying goodbye or leaving a note, he just took some clothes and left while his mom was sleeping on the couch. When he and Karl arrived in Brussels after a long trip, the man lead Tim to a private house where he offered him drinks and cigars. Last thing Tim remembered from that night was some middle-aged men who joined him and Tim laughing and touching him way too often. He woke up tied and aching. His whole body felt like burning. He was alone for hours before some girl brought food and water but she didn’t answer Tim’s questions. Karl appeared the next day and injected Tim with something that made him feel helpless, dizzy, and oh so light. Tim couldn’t remember very well the next months. They seemed like a blur of pain, dizziness, nightmares, and more pain. Tim started to realize he was a good delivered by his so called friend and had no way to escape this place. With time he realized he was drugged and he couldn’t really run even if he had a chance because he needed to get another shot to soothe the pain. That was all he thought about even when they allowed him to leave the room and meet the other inhibitants of the house. That was all he could think of when he realized he was used as a sex slave by old and wealthy patrons. It was like his real soul and personality were somewhere else, away from his body, and they were just watching a horror movie.
Sandrine grew up in Paris surrounded by her loving family and friends. She was used to getting what she wanted. Her quick mind and attractive personality made her popular at school and she enjoyed life to the fullest. Sometimes she felt dull and dreamt of adventures. She dreamt of passion and wonders and magical worlds she only saw between the pages of her many books. Sandrine had many friends but never a close one she could share all of her wild dreams and ideas with. There was always something that prevented her from doing so. When she was 15 she started finding a certain pleasure in chatting with random people in the internet. Being anonymous helped her being more honest. There she met B. B. who lived in Brussels, less than 400 kilometres away from her and who understood her better than anyone in the world. Sandrine found a friend and little by little she fell in love with him. She blushed when she told him how much she liked him. He was much older and much more experienced. She was so smitten by B. she did everything he asked her too – sent him naked pictures, did pointless things just to show she was obedient, but when he asked her to visit him she started wondering if she should go this far. She thought it was too dangerous. But he insisted, threatened her he would show the pictures to her friends and family and she finally agreed. She lied to her parents, telling them she would visit her aunt in Lille. When she arrived in Brussels she tried to hug B. who was waiting for her at the station, he pushed her away, grabbed her hand and dragged her to his car outside. Sandrine tried to talk with him, she told him she loved him again and again but got no response. When they finally stopped, B. dragged her to a house she assumed was his own. That was the last thing she remembered. She woke up afterwards, her head throbbing and her lower body aching like hell. This pain, however, was nothing compared to the feeling of betrayal and rage she felt towards B. She shouted and shouted. Eventually he came to the room, hit her hard across the face, and left her crying on the floor. Sandrine didn’t want to speak about the next weeks that followed. She missed her family and felt so stupid she trusted blindly a person who turned out to be the owner of this house, a prison to so many lost and tortured people who were rented like objects.
My story is a little different. I was born in Poland. I never had parents or friends or anyone who really cared about me. My mom died giving birth to me and nobody knew where my father was. I grew up in corded institutions, bullied by older kids and severely punished for every little mistake. My most sincere dream was to get out of there and be free to do whatever I want, whenever I want. I lost my innocence early and I found out that I have no chance of acquiring fame or fortune, or even proper education. I easily found my way to the street. It was ugly, disgusting, and often dangerous, but I survived. I had money and I cared about very little, as long as I was free. A job was a job after all. The guy under whose protection I was working, Mihael, told me about the money I could make if I worked in Western Europe. I must say I was very tempted. Even though I didn’t mind it, I wanted to stop working on the street and probably start a small business but I didn’t have the money. I asked Mihael if he knew someone there and he gave me the name and the address of a friend of his in Brussels. I planned my trip for almost half a year. When I arrived on the address Mihael gave me, I tried to sound and look very business-like. I was no noob and I knew my price. I got big promises and I felt quite good about my situation in general. The work, however, turned out to be rougher than I imagined. I had no protection from the owner of the house and my freedom was limited. I knew some of the other people working for the same guy were not there by choice, but I didn’t want to get involved. I only cared for myself. But sometimes I couldn’t pretend I didn’t hear the screams. I didn’t like that I was not free to go wherever I wanted. I tried to leave but I ended up being unconscious and kept isolated for days. Then I finally saw the chains that were binding me to this revolting place.
Once I realized I had no way to escape I looked around me and finally saw all the misery and despair. The girl whose room was next to mine and who I heard screaming often was a beautiful French student who came to find love but instead ended up like the favourite toy of brutal men. Tim was one of the few boys and he was not very talkative. I believe he was still in shock but sometimes we managed to exchange a few words and I found him very funny and sweet. I tried to give them hope, to make them believe this was not the end and the world outside was just waiting for them. I felt especially bad for Sandrine who had a loving family and good life she lost in seconds.
I tried coming up with complicated plans that would allow us escape but they never worked. One night, when my last patron left, I was looking through the small window, trying to clear my mind when I heard some strange noise and then I sensed the smoke. I shouted ‘Fire, get out’, and ran along the hall to warn everybody. Sandrine was paralyzed with horror and I had a hard time dragging her downstairs. There we found Tim and together tried to find our way out. There was a lot of smoke and it was dark. We were hearing the raging fire but we only saw shadows. We finally saw the door and headed to it when all of a sudden we heard scary cracking and I was on the floor with Tim next to me. Sandrine managed to push Tim and I out before a huge pile of burning wood fell over the place we had been just seconds ago and buried Sandrine. We didn’t stop, our survival instinct guided us outside even though we were hearing our friend screaming until she died and silence fell over the place. I felt tears running down my cheeks. I heard someone talking to me. I looked at the policemen and then collapsed.
When I woke up in the hospital, they explained to me that the police would like to talk to me. I asked about Tim and found out that the US embassy took him under their protection and he would be able to go back home. I was free to go, finally free, but strangely I felt so empty inside. I looked through the window and thought about Sandrine, so scared and so brave at the same time, caught in the web of a world she should have never seen. I wasn’t able to help her but maybe I would be able to help other people like her. I finally had a goal in my life.
Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including: forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude, and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography. There are approximately 20 to 30 million people who are trafficking victims in the world. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is between 12 and 14 years old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries.
The US Department of State suggests a lot of ways we can help prevent human trafficking and help the victims. Please, have a look at their list. We can make a difference.