South Asia

Babies?! Please no.

Bianca Bryson

‘…19 adults and 12 children – including several small babies – lived under the control of a brutal business owner who preyed on their poverty and forced them to…’

This is the opening line of an article I am reading at work today regarding a rescue we made just days ago. As the Director of Marketing & Communications I get to read these all the time. It’s actually why I love my role here at International Justice Mission – I read reports of rescues every week, often multiple times a week.

But this week … babies. Really?!

How is this even possible that there are small babies living under the control of brutal people? These particular families were taken under this slave owner’s control for $60. That’s all. They borrowed $60, to survive.

The thing that angers me the most is that this slave owner has a familiar pattern. You see, authorities rescued 23 people from his control and abuse in 2013. But because he was not formally arrested, he was free to enslave more people – yes, including babies. As a mother of young children this strikes a painful chord in me.

Rescues are so important, but the fact of the matter is, if you don’t restrain the perpetrator then it is of little incidence to them because, well, they just find more people. There are always vulnerable people. People who need help, protection and love. They actually aren’t any different to you or me, they were just born into different circumstances … like the babies.

These survivors, those who were rescued the other day, have shared how they were not only forced to work and beaten frequently if they were too slow, but were also moved constantly to different work sites. They slept in crude and makeshift tents made from old tarps and dressed in threadbare clothes and billboard canvas. The women faced frequent sexual harassment and one 14-year-old girl was given alcohol and sexually assaulted by the slave owner.

This time though, one labourer escaped and called IJM investigators. It took a day for IJM and local law enforcement working together to turn up and rescue these people.

This is why I love the work IJM does. Yes, I do. I actually get to communicate something that matters and makes a difference to people and this world. A difference that brings freedom and that fights for those who cannot fight. It ignites a core part of who I am and allows me to use my profession for good.

At IJM we aren’t just rescuing people, we are preventing other people from ending up in slavery or being trafficked. This is unique to IJM, and it works. With legal teams in each of the countries we work in, we have the opportunity to walk with survivors through their healing process and their legal case. Expert legal support is critical to ensuring traffickers and slave owners don’t get away with buying, selling and abusing human beings.

So whilst this story at work today has saddened me with the age of some who were rescued, I am also thankful that I know there are another group of people who will remain free because this trafficker no longer has the opportunity to recommit the crime by finding new people, including newborn … well, you know.

Bianca is the Director of Marketing & Communications at IJM Australia. You can read the rescue and arrest story mentioned in this blog here.

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