On days like these, I spend time reflecting on my journey, my impact, and the people both good and bad that I have encountered in my life.
Today being women’s day in South Africa, I could not shake off the information Matt Friedman, the counter-trafficking expert, shared in a recent conversation.
According to Matt, there are 40 million people living in modern-day slavery. There are more slaves now than at any other time in history, despite slavery being illegal. He went on to reveal that:
4.8 million people are forced into prostitution
20 million people are in forced labour and of that 60% are in the supply chain
25 000 people enter modern-day slavery daily
As I reflected on these statics and the impact these have on women in their capacity of mother, sister, daughter, victim, and perpetrator, yes women to are involved in the trafficking trade. With the challenges faced by women in my home country, South Africa, and the women I encountered globally through my travels and networks it dawned on me that the safety, equity, and economic advancement of women is a journey and a long one. For this to truly be realised we need the collective participation of courageous, compassionate, and empathetic men and women across the globe.
I choose not to elaborate on the significance and history of today’s holiday but instead illustrate the tenacity of the human spirit, the ability to love another human being, finding purpose in a cruel world and the infringement and violation of a woman through the conversation Matt had with Sushma. Matt met Sushma at a hospice outside of Mumbai, India. She was 33 years old at the time and was dying of HIV/AIDS.
This is Sushma’s story:
“My name is Sushma, and I was 13 years old when I arrived at the brothel in Mumbai. I was so young then. When my father told me I was going to India to work, I didn’t know what to expect. No one told me anything. On that first night, I was so horrified. I fought the man who started touching me. He held me down. It was over quickly. But the shock has always stayed with me. At first, I hated every moment of my time there. I thought of killing myself, but something stopped me. I always knew my life would account for something. I didn’t understand this until later. I was seventeen when I had my third pregnancy. While the first two were ended, this time they allowed me to keep the child. When he was born, I felt love for the first time. It was a boy. My little boy. My son. It was never easy to have a child in a brothel. It was a terrible place. But I managed. But then something happened. When he was four years old, one of the men tried to take my son into one of the rooms. He was a bad man. One of those men you don’t want children to be around. It was then that I decided I had to send him away. I went to the madam and told her I would work extra hard if my son could be sent to a boarding school. Since I had been there for nearly eight years, they agreed. While I seldom saw my son, I thought about him every waking moment. He was my life. Twice a year, I would leave the brothel to go and visit the school. When I was there, I’d watch him from a distance. I was ashamed of what I did. I didn’t want him to remember his time in the brothel. I didn’t want him to remember me. Over time, he forgot everything. Each year, he got stronger and more handsome. I could see he was popular with the others. He turned out to be a nice boy. He filled my heart with so much love. The only person who knew my story was the principal. She understood why I didn’t go and see him. She was a compassionate woman who didn’t have any children of her own. In some ways, she adopted my son. I was forever grateful. I am sick now. I don’t have much time left. I promised myself I’d make it to his graduation. It took all of my strength and determination to do so. But I made it. I sat in the back and watched him go on stage. After the ceremony was over, I went up to him. He was talking with his friends. From behind, I touched his robe. He didn’t see me do this. It may not seem like much to you, but it meant everything to me. Now that this is done, I can leave. I know what my life was for. It was to bring my son into this world. And for that, I am happy. I can let go now.” Matt originally shared this story on his LinkedIn profile.
Yes, there is progress in the advancement of gender equity. The protection and safety of women are still of concern. We do need to share these stories to highlight how much more manpower and resources are needed to drive the desired outcomes and for me it is a kinder world for all of humanity.
voice, action, support, kindness, empathy, integrity, and pooling of resources are needed to create awareness and through this process drive the desired positive outcomes for all of humanity.
On a positive note, there are many people selflessly serving humanity. My gratitude and love to each of you!
To those who are thinking about driving change in this area of need, please remember every act makes a difference and please do not talk yourself out of it under the misconception that your impact is insignificant.
To know more about the work of Matt Friedman and how you can assist, reach out to him via LinkedIn or his website https://themekongclub.org/
Spread the love and Be KIND!
Thank you for stopping by!
I wish you love, light, happiness, and Freedom
I Am the Change and Free – Founder www.charmainesoobramoney.com
Each One Hold One (EOHO) - Co-founder www.eoho.info
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