I can still remember the taste of bitter disbelief lingering in my mouth when I found out that stories like Taken [the movie] actually happen. I mean, I knew that girls in rural South-East Asia would be ‘bought’ off their parents for some pitiful amount of money and promises of a good job in the city only to be brought to brothels and forced to work. I knew that girls in India could be doused in acid and forced to beg blind for their master. I knew it happened but only in third world countries, right? Only in countries where people didn’t have great houses or high walls or guns to protect themselves, right? So when I watched ‘Taken’ for the first time I had no idea that [the main girl] Kim’s story was mirrored in real situations. Except most girls don’t have a father like Liam Neeson and they stay lost in the underground rings of sex trafficking.
This realization weighed heavy on my heart for a while and I began to look a little more into it. I was curious as to why this was allowed? Even in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, human trafficking generates $9.5 billion annually! This is no longer a developing world problem. This is a human problem. And it’s not all naive female tourists who accept a kind stranger’s help. The average age of entry into prostitution for a child victim in the United States is 13-14 years old. Our girls are being taken and enslaved. How does it happen? The kidnappers are predatory experts who know the type of girl they’re looking for. One in three teens on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.
There are so many organizations that are doing great work in rehabilitating girls who have run away or been rescued. The author of ‘Half the Sky’ (a book encouraging others to join in the fight for women all over the world to be free from oppression) suggests that keeping girls in school will increase their chances of survival. They will be engaged in their schools and make more educated decisions. Rescue and rehabilitation are so necessary, but prevention is essential!
Parents and teachers, you have a vital role in alerting your children to the realities, but avoiding it as a scare tactic. Girls especially need to know, but teach them about positive ways to stay safe. Public places are generally safe places. Teach girls to scream and fight even if threatened by death because kidnappers will usually issue empty threats hoping that the girls will come easily. Stay in cellphone range and sometimes, if feeling uncertain about a situation, even a pretend phone call to mom can dissuade potential predators. Role play at home to prep your girls on what to do in case of abduction. It is my understanding that girls who are prepped to fight are generally not the girls to be abducted.
Our first reaction would be to keep our girls at home in line of sight, but even that will become a prison of sorts and will make running away a more attractive option. And we know who will be there within 48 hours of these precious ones running away. So let’s encourage our girls to be powerful and smart and educated and willing to fight for the freedom of women the world over!
— Aimee Greig (Intern)