Ruth Mathen, a young Orthodox woman serving with the Christian Conference of Asia, moderated the discussion. “Human trafficking is one of the most vile assaults on the fundamental dignity and the rights of human beings, reducing them to mere commodities and objects,” she said. "As the COVID-19 crisis continues to cast a long shadow over global recovery and rehabilitation with many millions of children out of work and out of school, we are seeing a rise in the online preying upon and grooming of victims.”
In “The China Bride”, a short film shared by Life With Dignity-Cambodia, one woman recounted how she was sold for 2,700 USD. “He forced me to have sex for a baby,” she said. “I knew this is human trafficking and exploitation but I had no choice. Sometimes, I still feel terrible while sleeping. Every day, I want to forget it but I cannot.”
Aby, from the Philippines, shared her story of how, after being a survivor of human trafficking, she has regained hope for her life with help from the Batis Center for Women.
“I learned about my rights as a woman and also how to migrate safely, she said. “I also learned how to start my own business that I use to support myself and my children.”
She now advises young women on how to safely pass through the legal channels of migration and prevent them from becoming trafficked. “I am grateful to the Lord that I was able to cross paths with the Batis Center because I was able to overcome and rebuild my life from the experience of being trafficked,” she said. “I also help other women.”
Aby wants her experience to serve as an inspiration. “Even if you’ve had a negative migration experience, you can rebuild your life,” she said.
Heang Veasna, head of programmes at Life with Dignity-Cambodia, shared some of the social impacts of human trafficking. “People who have been trafficked sometimes commit suicide and have cognitive impairment and memory loss when they come back home,” she said.
Another social impact is the effect on children, Veasna said. “In Cambodia, physical abuse caused by trafficking leads to permanent reproductive problems, physical problems caused by working in conditions rife with chemicals or pesticides, and other diseases,” she said. “In Cambodia, more children are trafficked from impoverished families into forced labor including domestic servitude.”
Giselle, a survivor of trafficking, was coerced into being a caregiver for a man who moved her to Japan with the promise of moving back to the Philippines. The trafficker told her that the only way to go to Japan for the caregiving job was to marry the Japanese man.
“It was not a real relationship,” said Giselle. The man raped her, and degraded her emotionally and physically.
“I was able to seek help from a shelter,” she said. “When I arrived back in the Philippines, I was in a state of distress and I wanted justice so I filed a trafficking case.
Giselle still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. “If survivors like me do not speak, how will other women know about the danger?”