When we arrived the women and children from the Roma village were already gathered in one room and waiting in anticipation. Amongst the women, mainly in their teens, were many babies and toddlers.
We had heard that many of the women in the village were being pressured by husbands and boyfriends to go to other countries and work as prostitutes in order to get money to live. This was the reason we came.
We focused our presentation on human trafficking, what it is and everyone’s right to be free. There were a few heads nodding in agreement as we talked about other women who had been trafficked. These stories were a reality here.
After this we split up into groups to discuss, at a more intimate level, the pressures the girls face and how they can gather together to say no to the pressures put on by close family members. There were tears in these times as women shared stories of friends and family that went to other countries and never came back. Others were very quiet as we talked about rape and what happens when someone is trafficked.
Have we solved the problems of human trafficking in this community? Not even close. There are complex cultural problems that undergird and support the continuation of trafficking here and in the many other villages like it. But we have made a start and are committed to learning more about how we can reach out effectively to communities like this. We plan to return to this village soon to continue our prevention work right where trafficking happens.