What happens to the victims of human trafficking during the unprecedented times that we are currently living with the coronavirus crisis?
Sheltering in place is difficult for us all, and Fiet Gratia supports sheltering in place to slow the advance of the Covid-19 pandemic. Without deviating our attention from those who are directly affected by the coronavirus, and showing our solidarity with them, we also want to shine light on those who are already suffering through social exclusion, and now their vulnerable condition becomes even more extreme.
Among this group we find women who are victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. They live every day in a state of emergency. These women already faced great difficulties each day, without a fixed schedule, without healthy nutrition, without safety and security. In many cases, they are victims of violence and abuse at the hands of their controllers.
If many women who have been prostituted on the streets, in clubs, or clandestine apartments were already invisible, how much more invisible they are in this lockdown situation in Spain. They are at more risk than ever before. These women are now being obligated to continue to “work” with a high risk of contagion. With the quarantine and the fall of demand, they suffer fiercer control by their pimps and traffickers.
At this time, we are also concerned about domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women. Let us not forget that under these circumstances, the perpetrators of violence against women are more exposed to stress and anxiety, and can more readily take out their frustrations on them in a violent manner. And we must remember that women who are forced to work in prostitution frequently are the objects of this violence.
The current pandemic hampers our ability as an NGO to fight human trafficking because we are not authorized to go out to offer help to the victims or to determine how they are managing the crisis. But a virus does not stop the plans of criminal organizations, and for that reason we call on others to remember that sexual slavery continues whether or not there is a coronavirus. We continue to require your awareness and collaboration.
Finally, we feel it is our obligation to alert you to an even greater danger. In these days we are seeing new initiatives dressed up as “solidarity” and gestures of aid, that offer free pornographic material. In the midst of this crisis, we warn others not to be deceived by this poisonous “solidarity”, because it is yet another bridge that allows the entrance of pornography into our homes to take advantage of victims of human trafficking.
Pornography continues to drive the high demand for prostitution. It is the main reason that Spain continues to be one of the main countries in Europe involved in human trafficking.
For those of us who are part of Fiet Gratia, this difficult season causes us to see the harsh and unjust reality that these women endure. We hope that in spite of it all, we can continue to bring awareness to our society of this great tragedy.