The reality of war
Over the last few weeks, several million Ukrainians have been forced to leave their country for their own safety. Hundreds of them have found refuge in Switzerland. Hardly anyone does not know a family that has welcomed a Ukrainian woman and her children, perhaps a grandmother or a grandfather, an aunt… Sad reality of war, still remembered by part of the Swiss population who experienced it a long time ago. For some of us, though, it is the first time we are facing this drama, seeing these disoriented people, these separated families, who must make a new home where nothing is like home, learn a language as quickly as possible, adapt to another lifestyle, with the sad thought of their loved ones either gone forever or whom they may never see again.
The traffic and the suffering
In these difficult circumstances, the predators are lurking, those who never give the weakest and most vulnerable a break, because their business targets them…
The media have reported it: traffickers are going to the refugees’ centres where Ukrainians are staying, most of them women and their children and the elderly. These traffickers offer work in prostitution. Fortunately, the refugee centres have reacted quickly by forbidding access to private persons. The entrances are guarded by Security. As Perla, we went there, and we could see that the protection was firm and efficient! A young person from the Civil Service explained to us that several women had indeed complained of having been contacted by traffickers.
A personal help
The fliers we have prepared in Ukrainian have been given out in some train stations and in various refugee centers . We also distribute them hand to hand, urging people to be careful. Many are surprised by this information, finding it inconceivable to be the target of traffickers given their distress and their vulnerability… A Ukrainian woman journalist explained to us that many women and young girls had been raped by the soldiers, devastated forever by this terrible violence. She knew there were also traffickers at the borders, enticing women to follow them… She advised us to persevere in raising awareness, including across social media platforms.
This is what these predators are capable of, and this is how many women, wanting an escape route out of poverty, their desperate family situation and misery, find themselves enrolled in prostitution, in a scheme that cares little for their unfortunate background and circumstances. At Perla, we take a stand against the general mindset considering prostitution to be a “normal” job and calling prostitutes “sex workers”. Indeed, we remain convinced that the vast majority are not there by choice, but by necessity or by constraint. How can we talk about sexual freedom and liberation of women to a potential victim of sex trafficking? This attitude simply prevents her from denouncing the truth of her situation, which results from human trafficking. Therefore, at Perla, we consider that it is our duty to empower all potential victims, and knowing how many are in this situation, we cannot pretend that all prostitutes choose freely to exercise their activity. Far be it from us to judge the people who really choose to live from this activity. But we want to point out that what may be true for some of the, is not true for others.
This is what a person in charge of an erotic salon told us: fighting against human trafficking is futile as the victims will never speak anyway. As the person explained, if the pimp goes to jail, their victims know that the day the pimp gets out, if they are alive, they will regret the day they were born forever. Let’s not forget the threats faced by the victims and why they prefer to keep silent as they fear for their lives and those of their families. And of course the traffickers are free to continue their terrible work. Isn’t that macabre? And above all…Isn’t it urgent to reach the victims to protect them from these people without morals and who seem so indifferent to human misery ?
Translated by Johannes Leigh