by MONICA MARCU
When society refers to slavery, it usually does so in the past tense. And though chains and shackles may not be visible to society’s naked eye, as one woman has pointed out to the Valley, slavery is very much alive and well.
Timea E. Nagy, author, speaker and human trafficking advocate, was born in Hungary.
Initially attracted by a job offer to work in Canada, Nagy found herself enslaved in the sex trade.
Many girls in situations similar to her own, Nagy says, are removed from families and support and are relocated far from their own countries and culture, having to handle a foreign language and hostile captors face grim prospects.
In a presentation at McBride Secondary, Nagy detailed how these victims — who are often times underage — are threatened, brainwashed, physically and/or emotionally abused are coerced and blackmailed into working 18 hours a day, mostly with no food or sleep for many hours at a time.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which force or coercion is used to control victims and make them engage in commercial sex acts or labor services against their will — The National Human Trafficking Hotline
Most cannot escape, do not have the courage or will, and have nowhere to go or ask for help, as Nagy says, “their spirit is broken.” Closer involvement of parents, school and community to help support their youth is the solution, she says.
It’s almost hard to believe, but there are now more slaves than ever in the history of the world, according to Free the Slaves (FTS), a group that operates front-line community-based field projects in order to liberate slaves in six hot-spot countries around the globe.
“While we have helped awaken the world to the fact that slavery still exists, we have freed more than 12,000 people from slavery,” says Terry FitzPatrick, Communications and Advocacy Director for Free the Slaves.
About 21 million people are enslaved worldwide, according to the U.N. International Labor Organization.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which force or coercion is used to control victims and make them engage in commercial sex acts or labor services against their will, according to The National Human Trafficking Hotline, as India has by far the greatest number of enslaved people, but other countries with significant slave labor are China, Pakistan, Bangladesh.
We, here in North America unknowingly consume many products made by slaves, such as clothing from South Asian sweatshops. Canada is not immune to this scourge of human trafficking and slavery, Nagy says, but virtually all countries in the world are affected either as a source, transit, destination, or combination thereof.
Internal movement and exploitation within a country is seemingly more prevalent than trans-border trafficking. Besides sexual slavery, Nagy says exploitation in construction, agriculture, manufacturing, and the domestic and food service businesses are prevalent in many places. Slavery generates over $150-billion for the traffickers every year, according to FTS; of these victims, 78 per cent are in labor slavery, 22 per cent are trapped in sex slavery.
Even more disturbing, 26 per cent of today’s slaves are under the age of 18, according to FTS.
Children are the most vulnerable victims of slavery, of course, and also are involved in different markets for trafficking — some not mentioned in this article previously — such as trafficking in organs, child soldiers, mail-order brides and adoption.
With luck and resilience, Nagy escaped slavery and turned her fate around. Today, she travels the country and speaks for this cause with eloquence and even humor.
Since 2009, Nagy has been involved in training over 10,000 police officers, investigating over 120 cases and assistance of 300 enslaved girls. Her advice for us is to get involved wherever we can; although the victims of trafficking today do not wear chains, they might not ask for help, or might not even look like victims, they badly need our help.
Donate to agencies involved in freeing the slaves, she says, talk about it, advocate, protect the youth and educate yourself from resources such as Polaris Project.