Monday, December 6, 2010

Root Cause Of Child Vulnerability To Human Traffickers

by Iana Matei with Pam Pyne

         The root cause of children being lured by human traffickers isn’t poverty. It’s dysfunctional families living in the midst of poverty.  Iana Matei

       When slave traders, transported 18 year old Sylvia from Romania to Italy with the intension of selling her into prostitution, the role her family played in her heroic escape illustrates my point,

     Sylvia had lived her entire life in a small Romanian village with her widowed mother and six siblings.  While Sylvia’s mother struggled to provide materially for her children, she provided ample lessons in love, self-respect and respect for others. 
     It distressed Sylvia’s mother when Sylvia wasn’t able to go on to higher education.  Sylvia received excellent grades and her mother felt she could go far with further training. But Sylvia’s mother had no money.
     An older woman from the village approached Sylvia's mother.
     “I noticed Sylvia isn’t in school. Why not?”
     “There's no money to send her.”
     “I may have a solution for you. “
     The older woman leaned in and smiled.  “ You know my son and my daughter moved to Italy a couple of years ago. They come back often to visit. You’ve seen them around. My daughter married and opened a restaurant that caters to Romanians traveling into Italy. She needs a girl who speaks Romanian to wait the tables. Sylvia could do that job.”
     Sylvia’s mother had noticed the son and the daughter coming and going around the village. Judging from the car they drove, their restaurant must be quite successful. The woman’s living conditions had also improved. Her house was painted, her fence was fixed and she wore a new coat.
     “They’ll be here next week. Sylvia could ride back to Italy with them and stay with my daughter and her family. She could work in the restaurant and send money home. After two years, she would have enough to come back to Romania and go to school.”
     Sylvia’s mother trusted what this woman said. She had known the woman her entire life and she’d watched her children as they grew up.
     The following week, Sylvia left with the daughter and the son and headed for Italy. When they got there, the daughter showed Sylvia to her room. The son was already there and the room held only one bed.
     “I don’t want to sleep with him. I’m a virgin and I want to stay that way.”
     “It’s the only bed here. Take it or leave it.”
     Sylvia dodged the young man’s advances all night. The next morning Sylvia received a call from the young man’s mother back in Romania.
     “You traveled all the way to Italy with my son and now you won’t have sex with him? You selfish girl. He’ll explode! Have sex with my son and get on with it.”
     That afternoon, the daughter and the son revealed their plans for Sylvia. She would sexually satisfy several men each day and give them the money she earned to pay for her trip to Italy.

(Continued next week)

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