When Human Trafficking Comes to your Door

Photo Credit: Marlo Antonio Pena
Photo Credit: Marlo Antonio Pena

A few weeks ago, after I dropped Kiean off at nursery, I was walking alone to the tube station when a burly man in a parka stopped me. He asked me if I’d like to make some money.  He offered me an opportunity for a photo shoot – He said it’d pay £80 per hour.  I politely declined because I was on my way to work. At the time I didn’t think much of the encounter; because it’s not uncommon to be approached by salesmen in the city who are offering young girls makeover experiences – this happened to me last year when a friend from the States was visiting (although when we were approached the man showed us a flyer, and had a nametag, and told us all about the venue where he worked). But when I was stopped by the man in the parka, I wasn’t in the city, I was in Perivale – an industrial estate.  And the man had no information to show me, made no mention of a venue, didn’t tell me his name.  And I was alone.  He wanted me to go with him. I had shrugged the whole thing off. And then last week I read Undaunted: Daring to do what God calls you to do by Christine Caine (a woman who has committed her life to rescuing and rehabilitating victims of human trafficking).  In her book she describes how girls are lured by predators who promise them money and jobs, and are then kidnapped, raped and forced into sex slavery.  According to her research many of these girls are Eastern European and come from areas of poverty.  They are attracted by the prospect of a better life and being able to earn money to support their families.  They never expect the deception. Now this is just speculation:  Perivale has a huge population of Eastern Europeans.  I’m sometimes be mistaken for a teenager (a few months ago I was denied a scratch off because the woman behind the cash register didn’t think I was of age -16- to buy the ticket.).  It’s possible that this man thought I was a prime target. It’s also fully possible that this man was actually just trying to get me involved in a photo shoot.  I don’t know.  But the horror stories are enough to make me worried about how vulnerable our youth are.  Ten years ago – at seventeen – if I had been approached in this way, in my naivety I might have just gone with him. I see in the papers all the time, young teenagers who’ve gone missing.  I have a 12 year old step-daughter, and even the thought . . . it horrifies me. Be aware, talk to your kids.  If it was that easy for me to be approached then, well, just talk to your kids.

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