On unequal injustices

I wrote this while on holiday in January. (I will aim to make the links work soon).

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(Trigger Warning – contains information about sex-trafficking. May also contain too-much-information about periods…)

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I was going to write a whinging, whining, self-pitying post about how stupid and mean and unfair and generally ‘meh’ it is, to not only be someone who inflates like a balloon* for the week preceding her period, but to do so while on holiday. Not only that, but to also start said period in an apartment where toilet paper has to be collected in a bucket instead of flushed down the loo. How gross is that? Also, it’s all very well peeing behind rocks when out discovering the island, ‘perioding’ is a different story, and the island im general isn’t particularly toilet friendly – the few-and-far-between public loos here close at about half past 6.

Yeah, then I watched a documentary about European sex-trafficking and underage prostitution and girls having to choose (at around 12 years old) between,
A) staying at home, where ‘home’ means in a hovel** with an outside loo or no loos at all, probably no electricity or running water, and a high chance of unemployed, abusive, alcoholic parents, with no real perspective of improvement or a decent education or a job of their own in the future
or,
B) going out into the ‘big wide world’, where ‘big wide world’ means leaving everything you know, trusting a stranger, or a cousin, (or sometimes, in the most harrowing cases, a former close friend who’s come back to fetch you), to bring you across the border to freedom, with the promise of a good job or an education thrown in, but actually turns out to be having your trust broken, having your passport taken from you at the border and being made to ‘work’ in a bordell in the backstreets of an unnamed European town (or directly on the streets) where you are likely to be drugged up and forced to do unthinkable things with uncountable, mostly rich, men who have too much at stake to report the underage, underfed, underslept ‘staff’ in their bordell of choice. One of the bordells they’d just arrested in the documentary, looks, at least from the outside, like a typical house in an upper class housing estate. Inside, behind closed doors (and closed windows), lived a group of ’24-hour prostitutes’. 24-hour-prostitutes have to be available all day every day. No respite. Instead of informing the police, the ‘clients’ complained to the bordell, the same way they would complain about a hire car: ‘this one doesn’t meet the requirements’.
This upper class housing estate is less than 20km from where I live. It unfortunately isn’t the only one of it’s kind in the world.

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The worst part of it, really, is that I can’t do anything about it.
I am a glassblower, not a social worker, not a politician, not a judge.
I can’t make laws, and I can’t even vote for them if someone else makes them (unless they’re made in England) because I’m English living in Germany.
I speak English and German (with a tiny bit of French and Spanish for good measure), not Romanian or any of the other East European languages most of the girls speak. Even if we shared a common language, I have no idea what I could say that would help, I don’t have any experience of living in hovels or bordells or any of the other things they’ve been subjected to in their short lives.
I can’t help them escape, can’t offer them an alternative, can’t brighten their futures.
I can’t even pay someone else to help them because I’m close to broke – I will have to talk to the bank when I get home as my account seems to have a leak, or more likely, a holiday-sized hole, in it. And then I need new glasses. And to eat. And to pay the electricity bill. And the water bill. And the phone bill. And all manner of things which I pretty much take for granted as necessary for life, but which are probably unimaginable to a Romanian 12 year old…

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If anyone has clever, or workable, ideas or suggestions for things I could actually do (apart from pray, wish and hope) please let me know.

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In the meantime, faced with all this information, which to misquote Stefan in this article about ‘reading rape’, “I don’t even want to have in my head”, I think I’ll stick with my holiday in an apartment with the strange loo-roll laws. Maybe I’ll still complain about them, but quietly, and in the knowledge that it could be so unbelievably much worse. And I’ll enjoy the rest.
* I have friends who were less round at 7 or 8 months pregnant..

** a real hovel, not a wantable hovel like Kate lived in.

0 Replies to “On unequal injustices”

  1. What I’m thinking {in answer to your heading} is that that is appalling and I am not so unread that I know it doesn’t happen, and to many young girls. But ah the awful thought of it! These are-or should be- children, living children’s lives. We who are blessed to never have known such a disastrous beginning to life, cannot start to imagine the middle of it, or the bitter ending either.
    Some men are sick and quite depraved! {And I know some men are lovely too.}

    I just wish I had an answer to this and other sorts of injustice, well there is an answer, but who wants to take time and use unselfishness to live “the golden rule” in this day and age? Not too many it seems.
    And we can all “wish, hope and pray”, and if we have opportunity we can speak up too, to anyone who will listen, whether they can do anything about it or not.

  2. The fact that you care enough to face this horrific reality might make more difference than you realize. With that gestating in your heart and mind, there’s a possibility you’ll see options further down that you don’t see now, and the compassion you feel will certainly inform the kindness you show in the future. These are small glimmers, I know, but–to me–they’re better than no glimmers at all.

  3. it is heartbreaking, there are so many sad and awful things happening in the world that we have no power over. I don’t have any answers for you, except to concur with Deborah, with this in your heart and mind maybe the Universe will find a way that you can help, even if it is a very small way. Hugs.

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