Sex slavery - what I learnt from my short trip to Moldova

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Earlier this year Vladimir Ubeivolc (Beginning of Life, Moldova) came to speak at Red Sessions. It was a challenging and eye-opening event which impacted all who attended. With us that evening was Camilla Selous – a Medical student at Cardiff University. Following the event she contacted Beginning of Life and arranged to spend time with them during her summer break. The trip greatly impacted her and upon return she wrote an article for local student publication, Gair Rhydd. She has kindly allowed us to re-publish it here:

Sex Slavery – what I learnt from my short trip to Moldova

Slavery. If I’m being honest, I always thought it had ended several centuries ago with Wilberforce and Lincoln. When I went to a talk by a Moldovan charity called ‘Beginning of Life’, I was shocked beyond belief to learn about the realities of Modern Day Slavery. Today, an estimated 27 million people worldwide are exploited in the commercial sex industry and as forced labour. This summer I boarded a flight to Moldova to volunteer for them and learn more about human trafficking.

Moldova is a small country in Eastern Europe and a terrifying 10% of its population have been trafficked, primarily into the sex industry in Russia and Western Europe. When Moldova gained its independence from the Soviet Union, the economy collapsed and drove almost half the population to leave the country and seek work abroad. This created a whole generation of abandoned children incredibly vulnerable to exploitation. Traffickers lure young girls in with the offer of jobs abroad only to confiscate their documents on arrival and force them into sex work.

Working with Beginning of Life was the most challenging but inspiring experience of my life so far. One of the women I met had been sold into slavery by a ‘boyfriend’ looking to exploit her for financial gain. She had been completely traumatised but after 3 years on BOL’s restoration program she had undergone a significant healing process and was now training to be a nurse. An important lesson I took away was the need to understand each of our own skills and limitations when we want to help a cause we are passionate about. I’m not a lawyer who can prosecute traffickers, a social worker who can support survivors or a psychiatrist who can provide therapy, but I do have other skills! Whilst there, I had the opportunity to lead Art, Dance and English workshops on the youth camps BOL use as a platform to educate teenagers about trafficking.

Trafficking is much closer to home that we’d like to think. Only this July, the police freed 13 slaves in raid of a traveller site outside Cardiff. To learn more, check out ‘the A21 campaign’ or consider watching the award-winning documentary ‘Nefarious Merchant of Souls’.

We are excited to have Beginning of Life with us again at our Red Sessions event next month. Join us on Friday 20th November, 7:30pm at Rainbow of Hope, Broadway, Cardiff.