A report from CNN recently highlighted an issue affecting women globally. While we may think that slavery has long since been abolished, sadly it is alive and well and thriving on the streets of Europe.
The report highlighted the human trafficking of Nigerian women, some as young as 12, to Europe and into a life of sexual slavery with very little prospect of escape. Promised waitressing jobs in Paris and other parts of Europe, the reality that meets them when they arrive is the Bois de Vincennes, a famous park in Paris that by night transforms into a hotbed of prostitution from a children’s playground by day. Police say there’s little they can do (why?) to help.
At least 40 million victims of modern slavery, 25 million victims of forced labour, and perhaps the most troubling – one in four victims of modern slavery is a child.
Before departing, these trafficked women are forced into swearing a terrifying oath that they will not betray their madam (yes, many women are sadly involved in this racketeering) and are therefore too scared to speak out, for fear of breaking the oath which they believe would lead either to madness or death. But Nadege did speak out (not her real name) under the cover of anonymity, and you can read and view her heartbreaking story of abuse and exploitation here.
According to the CNN report, although Nadege now has refugee status and a full-time job she still feels her life is ruined. The birth of her son, however, has given her a new purpose.
"No matter what I am tomorrow, I'm still going to be useless. Because I can't proudly say my story. I can't proudly tell the world who I am." Her voice falters. "Whatever I'm doing right now, I'm doing it for my son."
According to World Vision, a life of poverty is even more difficult if you happen to be born a girl. And this is the grim reality for 700 million women and girls worldwide who are impoverished, less likely to be educated and more likely to suffer poor health.