no one should have to suffer slavery

Ancilla, a tender and innocent little girl has been lost. She is eight years old, she is 17 and she is 12. She is Cambodian, Ukrainian, Canadian and African. She was born in your town, in a city, in a village, in a hospital and in a hovel. She has clear blue eyes and deep dark brown eyes and when you look deeply they are emerald green. Her skin is pale, beautiful, dark, olive and flawless with multiple scars and open wounds. She knows her family, but no longer remembers what it was like living with them. She is clever, has intellectual disabilities, is fluent in multiple languages, but is afraid to speak.

She works to pay for her family’s debt, her parents’ safety, her sister’s wellbeing and her own freedom. During the day, she serves coffee, cares for children, makes bricks, cleans buildings, sews and provides sexual favours to men. During the night, she is raped, beaten, starved, drugged and desecrated. She lies awake in fear, hoping for respite from the torture she lives while sleeping in exhaustion, dreaming of terrors that will force her awake.

The life she lives is dark, hidden and worse than death. But she is not dead. She is very much alive, fighting, clamouring and choking her way through every moment of every day, fixing her eyes on the sunlight that breaks through the crack in the shutter blind. Yes, she is alive, forgotten, hidden and rejected and her one and only hope is to be found.

Ancilla is the Latin word for slave girl. Although the abolishment of slavery is claimed to be an indicator of evolved humanity, a shocking 27 million human slaves are still being held captive as property, used solely for the pleasure and consumption of evil men and women.

An estimated 1,200 human slaves are imported into Canada each year, 80 per cent of whom are for the sex trade. Our city is listed as the 82nd largest municipality in this country. Statistics would suggest that we have victims living in St. Albert.

Although the Canadian government holds minimum standards to eliminate trafficking, there is still much to be done. Judges have been reluctant to charge traffickers of foreign victims and when they do, reports indicate that few have been convicted. More disturbing is that a significant number of the sex tourists that travel abroad to engage in sex acts with children are Canadian. Last July, Ken Klassen, a Canadian sex tourist, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for 15 counts of abuse of girls aged eight to 14 in Cambodia and Columbia. Although the extraterritorial law gets murky, the premise of this conviction is that a predator of a child is everyone’s enemy.

There are more and more places to find information on how to help. Not4sale.ca and World Vision are two organizations that offer information and tangible ways to make a difference. My family is currently collecting funds with our church to pay for the rescue and long-term rehabilitation of 25 girls in Cambodia. Why? Because no organized system will fix this rapidly growing threat to moral decency. And because we are the rich in this world, the protected, the spoiled, the fat, we owe humanity our best effort in stopping this.

Researching this will force us to grow up. My 14-year-old daughter has been investigating it, and I voiced my concern about her being able to handle the negative aspects of the topic. “It’s a difficult problem to process.” I warned. She replied with wisdom beyond her years. “If the facts are too hard for us to handle, no one should have to live through it. No one.”

St. Albert Gazette | Saturday, July 02, 2011 06:00 am | Dee-Ann Schwanke

For more information and news on this topic, visit Dee-Ann Schwanke’s new website, findingancilla.com.

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