What is the string of events that lands someone in a trafficking situation? It usually starts with one setback, which launches a snowball effect that destroys everything in its wake.
There are a few things that we can learn from this tragic story.
First of all, it’s important to note that healthy community acts as a protective buffer. The woman in this story was orphaned, but was lovingly cared for by a friend of the family. However, since this friend was her only community, her death resulted in extreme vulnerability.
Second, for those of us who come from middle or upper class backgrounds, one mishap doesn’t equal tragedy. We still have income, maybe some savings. But for the poor, one negative event (like losing a loved one, losing a job, or missing one rent payment), can result in absolute desperation.
Another thing worth mentioning is that often recruiters are women. A woman is able to build trust more quickly, and they exploit this when seeking out victims.
For many of us who have grown up in contexts where police are there to help us, it’s difficult to understand why a trafficking victim wouldn’t reach out to the police. But for victims who come from countries where the police are often the instigators of violence or take bribes from traffickers, reaching out for help doesn’t even cross their minds.
“If you go to the police, they will send you back to me.”
Finally, it is important for us to be aware of the stories around us. We don’t know how that homeless person on the street ended up there. We don’t know the background of that person begging for asylum. Let’s keep our eyes open and treat people with kindness. As we build trust with those around us, we may become the safe person a victim reaches out to in their moment of need.