Trust is a word that victims of human trafficking may easily forget. Those who care for them need to remind them that it still exists.
That is the belief of the director of a charity with first-hand experience of the issue.
“I know the pain and I know the sense of rejection, insecurity and loneliness that a lot of these girls feel,” says Jenny Gilpin, founder of City Hearts. “I am the baby of a gang rape myself.”
The charity that she started five years ago cares for the victims of human trafficking.
“I started it because I wanted to provide an environment that felt safe and gave them a sense of family.”
“When these beautiful, wonderful girls come to us, they’re very traumatised, very alone. They feel like they can’t trust anybody in the world. So, initially for us it’s helping them to trust somebody again. It’s providing a safe environment for them.”
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says one of every seven sex workers in Europe could be enslaved into prostitution through trafficking. Activists say the number is much higher and may be close to eight out of each nine sex worker.
Human trafficking has a global market value of $32 billion, according to UN estimates. It takes place across the globe, in many cases unnoticed. Trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most-known form. Because of its stealth nature, it is not easy for international organisations to produce accurate statistics.
The UN estimates show that at any one time 140,000 people are trapped across Europe. The International Labour Organisation says 2.4 million people throughout the world are lured into forced labour.
“I firmly believe that we can love people back to life and that’s what really City Hearts is about,” Gilpin says. “It’s about us putting our arms around these girls, hopefully keeping them long enough so they can get justice, but also loving them back to life, helping them get their dreams back on track.”
London Correspondent, euronews