My social life has become what seems to be a trend among many: a cozy night in with a good film. Many a time I’ve sat, watched, and enjoyed our movie selection, but to be honest, I pretty much forget most of the content after a day passes by. I suppose it’s because it’s just a movie — it’s not real, and so it really doesn’t impact my life or my family.
I recall watching the film ‘Taken’ back in 2008 — the big Hollywood flick about a retired CIA agent who travels across Europe and relies on his old skills to save his daughter who’s been kidnapped while on a trip to Paris.
At the time, my children were teenagers, so I could relate to the fear, but I told myself it was just a movie and wouldn’t allow my emotions to explode. I would quickly fall back into the life and chores of a mother.
I’d heard the term ‘trafficking’ before but it had no emotional impact and wasn’t something that affected my daily life in the UK. I was totally disconnected.
In 2013, I was asked to consider a post with Love146. My expertise in charitable funding and development fit the criteria but I needed to understand the cause, so I did some research. I read report after report on human trafficking and exploitation, and realised that this wasn’t just a third world country problem; this was real and happening in the UK. In my own community.
While reading the statistics and profiles of young people who were victims of trafficking, my heart broke. I realised that I had been ignorant of this dark reality in our world. I cried not just tears, but sobbed uncontrollably over each report.
Who has the right to treat and manipulate young, vulnerable people in this way? To steal their childhood?
I came to a point where I could read no more, where my heart was so broken for these young people, where fiction met truth and a whole new world became visible before me.
At one of my latest film nights with my family, we settled down on the couch and watched ‘Eastern Promise.’ It’s a film about a pregnant Russian teenager whose diary was translated into English by a nurse after the teenager died in the hospital. The journal leads the nurse to find a group of young girls who had been trafficked and exploited by a gang, and she intervenes.
The film impacted me deeply because I knew that this story could be a true one. It had been so easy in the past to watch a movie and move on.
Would it have felt better for me to be blind to this issue? You may think so. Surely it’s easier to be ignorant of the trauma and darkness of trafficking that happens in our own communities, behind closed doors, in order to live happy, carefree lives.
But the mission of Love146 is the abolition of child trafficking and exploitation. Nothing less. This mission isn’t going to come about if people would rather cover their eyes and ignore what is really going on. And as a parent, it’s my responsibility to educate, nurture, motivate and love my children.
I can be ignorant and just hope that human trafficking doesn’t happen in my neighborhood, or I can be grateful that I’ve learned the truth — because I now can help put an end to the darkness and pain so many young people endure.