Hello it’s Phil here from STOP THE TRAFFIK Belgium.
I wanted to tell you about an email that landed in my inbox through our campaign Business Travellers against Human Trafficking.
The email came from a man in Indonesia who was begging for help. His friend had got into debt which she couldn’t afford to pay. As she didn’t have enough money, she was being forced to go with suspected traffickers who said they were taking her to Iraq. She managed to SMS her friend explaining that she was being taken to the airport at 5pm that day.
She was being taken to a different country against her will to pay of her debt….. It was clear that this girl needed help! I looked at the email, decided I needed to act fast and then I looked up the time difference between Belgium to Indonesia – there were two hours before this woman was lost to an unknown future. There was no time to lose!
I had no idea which NGOs to contact in Indonesia, so I looked on the internet and soon found a few. Before long, I was clutching the phone nervously waiting for someone to pick up, but when they did there was another problem – no one spoke any English.
So, it was back to the drawing board but time was ticking.
In the end I did the only thing I could and phoned the British embassy, I knew there would be people there who spoke English. They were surprised to be contacted about a trafficking situation happening a mile from were they were by a man in Belgium, but they sprang into action and contacted the local police. Before long I received the message that the woman had been rescued and was safe for the moment, although the threat would never completely disappear. It was a strange, but amazing story of a rescue that started with an SMS and spanned half the world. It also showed yet again that by reporting what we know, we can bring help to trafficking victims.
This week www.businesstravellers.org ran another story about Indonesia about a recruitment agency who promised young women domestic work in Malaysia. This agency is now accused of trafficking applicants into prostitution. The problems of poverty, debt and the hope of a better life creating vulnerability to trafficking continue. The more it can be brought to light, the more we can work together to stop it.
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