By Mark Murray
Today, (Wednesday, January 11, 2017) the country is observing National Human Trafficking awareness day under the theme ‘put the right back into rights’.
“The men them characterise yuh different like yuh know, they don’t see you as no sweet gul, no wife, they see you as a whore”- a 24-year-old survivor who shared her story after falling prey to human trafficking in a foreign land and being forced to sell sex in exchange for money.
It is understood that the sex trade poses several health issues but it takes someone who would’ve had the unfortunate fate of experiencing such to explain the situation.
With fear in her voice, she noted that “Yuh don’t only have to get infection from yuh man, yuh get it from the same condoms people having sex with you and you just having sex randomly and different…penis and all these things.”
Her unfortunate experience occurred in July 2016, in French Guiana after agreeing to visit that country with her aunt-in-law, just to assist with babysitting a relative’s child.
The young woman with encouragement from her boyfriend at that time, decided to take up the offer since they were living at the same aunt here in Guyana, rent-free.
“She went home back over here and she get back over and she was like ‘my man ain’t want me because he ain’t want marriage life, he want ghetto life.’…She was like ‘put on my nails and a little dress and walk right from here to out there and I gon get white men and she gon get…paper’ and all of these things…She seh he ain’t want me anymore and is better I do prostitution and gain…So that is how it all started.”
It was at that point she felt stifled and controlled by the woman who tricked her into “working the streets” by selling her body.
While being on the street corner, the 24-year-old would befriend a girl who listened to her story and wanted to help her escape the situation.
“Now ah used to siddown like if ah did “faring”, siddown all these hours before I go back home to my aunt-in-law and tell her ‘me ain’t do no business, the road rough’ and that I did tekking long to get a stop so that’s why I come home so late.”
For two week they would plan her escape and after a while, she had to sleep with guys before her aunt found out what she was up to, since the woman wanted a vacation.
“She say you gon stay whilst I gone to Paris so when I come back, you gon go so it means that six months, I gon wuk me bady good and mek she somebody because she said she wasn’t working and if she was working, I would not have had to help her”.
The young lady said her sexual encounters have left a scar in her memory and it is something she does not believe will be forgotten.
On August 12 last year, the young woman hid herself in a trunk of a car and was smuggled back into Guyana unknowing to her aunt-in-law.
She then immediately sought help and within days, made a report to the local police about her captivity abroad, luckily the woman returned also.
The emotional 24-year-old related that “we get her the said night that I made the report. Because after I come home, I had nowhere to stay, it was her house that I was staying. And remember your man find out now that you “faring”, he ain’t want you no mo so wuh you gon do? You leff stranded…you got to mek yuh “ites” and that’s how you end up like this.”
It did not take the police long to build a case against the aunt-in-law and with advise from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
She recounted that going through with the matter was not about money but getting justice which was described as being hard. “And I feel good because sometimes I read so much in the papers sometime, that you could be a victim but still get wrong. But I get the right…it wasn’t a set up, it was me the victim.”
The aunt-in-law was found guilty for her actions and the matter is being appealed.
The woman said the relationship she once shared with her boyfriend until now, is however not the same like the day she left these shores.
“I never think the one who I love the most out of all me aunt-in-law them would turn around and do something like this to me and deface me in front of me bai because even tho me and he does still pull, I don’t feel like he woman, I feel like the whore that she turned me into, that I never wanted to be” the young woman said with tears in her eyes.
When it comes to addressing human trafficking the Social Protection Ministry’s Counter-Trafficking in Persons Unit has recorded some 47 cases for last year where 110 persons were victims of this social ill.
The Acting Coordinator of the Unit, Tanisha Williams-Corbin said once the matter is reported then it is investigated until being resolved before the Courts.
The U.S State Department annual TIP report continues to highlight that Guyana is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour.