I remember the first time I ever heard about human trafficking. Words and figures flashed on a large screen in front of myself and 16,000 other women, and yet the statistics were so sobering I felt as though I was all alone.
Testimonies of girls as young as me, stories of unspeakable horror and life-changing nightmares. Women and children, stolen and enslaved. Through no fault of their own, sold into slavery for someone else’s profit and pleasure. And my stomach was in knots. The thought that this could have as easily been my sister, my friend, me, sat heavily on my heart all night. I couldn’t shake the William Wilberforce quote they shared ‘You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you didn’t know.’ And it has sat with me ever since.
Learning the horrific reality and scope of human trafficking was heartbreaking, but to continue living my life and enjoying my own freedom since hearing their voices felt impossible. I may not be able to stop it in a day, I may not be able to make the biggest financial contribution, but I can and will do something about it. Because going on as if everything was fine would be to act as though their stories weren’t of value and didn’t deserve to be heard, respected and fought for. Which is entirely why this injustice exists.
Because one person believes their own gain is of more value than another person’s life and freedom. Which in itself is worth fighting against. The idea that these innocent lives have been stolen and hidden away from the rest of the world to then feel forgotten about, voiceless and powerless to change things motivates me to continue fighting for them. I will fight for change, I will fight for freedom, I will fight for them.
Because they may be trapped and unable to fight, but I am not. And I will use every aspect of my freedom to fight for theirs as it could have so easily been the other way around. Imagine it was your neighbour, your sister, your best friend – would you want someone who knew about it to shrug their shoulders, turn away and throw it in the too hard basket? Or would you hope and pray that they would search for as many accessible resources and practical actions to take in order to do everything they could to do something about the injustice? Not because it was quick, easy and convenient to do so, but because it was right.
Freedom should never be taken from another. And yet, to have this injustice occur so progressively on a global scale, and be hidden so incredibly well that the world keeps spinning with barely a whisper, is deplorable. And to have the path to restoring it clouded so heavily by corruption and protest is agonising. But it is STILL worth the fight. Always, always, always.
WRITTEN BY SOPHIE SKIPPER