Editor’s Note: Slavery survivor Timea Nagy now helps others escape enslavement on the streets of Canada. She is a recipient of a Free the Slaves Freedom Award for her heroic resilience and ongoing commitment to others. Her group, Walk with Me, has recently released a powerful music video, which we thought you should see. We asked Timea to say in her own words how the video came to be.
As the winter months say farewell, warm weather seems to be right on the horizon. Unfortunately, the coming of summer will bring with it a rise in human trafficking in Canada. Sex slavery will return to the streets, and Walk With Me is making a great effort to raise awareness.
Walk With Me Canadian Victim Services is a survivor-led organization dedicated to raising awareness and providing education about slavery, delivering and coordinating services to support survivors, and advocating action for change. We have trained and assisted more than 60,000 law enforcement personnel across Canada since 2009. Our organization has been involved in big cases such as Project OPAPA, assisting 22 victims in Canada’s largest human trafficking case to date.
The battle against human trafficking is now starting to enlist Canadian musicians and dancers. “Break the Silence” — a song written and performed by Francois Mudler, a young, talented Canadian artist – illustrates the struggles of people exploited by human trafficking.
Hearing Francois’ voice had been one of my personal coping and healing mechanisms when I would feel overwhelmed by work or by flashbacks from my past. I was fortunate to actually meet him. Francois then read my book, “Memoirs of a Sex Slave Survivor,” and said he would be happy to write a song to expand public understanding. The dancer in the video is a young artist, who came to our first fundraising gala last year and asked to volunteer any time we need help.
The song was recorded last September. Every single story in the video is real, and permission was granted by those involved in the cases to include their stories. The idea is for anyone to be able to use the video. It has been launched as a public service announcement, aiming to raise awareness all over the world. Funds that are generated will be used to keep providing services for victims of human trafficking.
Three amazing women will be honored this year as recipients of the Fourth Annual Free the Slaves Freedom Awards. Two are former slaves who have dedicated their lives to helping others to freedom. One is a former governmental official who has shown the world how to combat slavery at a national level.
Frederick Douglass Award Winner
Timea Nagy was a TV producer in Hungary, looking to raise quick funds for a show. She answered an ad to work temporarily in Canada. But when she arrived, she learned she had been tricked. After many months as a sex slave, she escaped and founded Walk With Me, a group that rescues sex trafficking victims, provides immediate support to survivors, and trains Canadian cops to recognize and respond to sex slavery.
William Wilberforce Award Winner
Ruth Vilela was Brazil’s secretary of labor inspection, and created the world’s most innovative anti-slavery SWAT squad. The unit raids farms and sweatshops, freeing thousands of slaves each year. She also created the Dirty List, which quarantines companies where slavery is found. And she created the National Pact, prompting major companies to pledge that they will root-out slavery in their product supply chains.
Frederick Douglass Award Winner
Josefa Condori Quispe left her small village in Peru at age 9 to work as a maid in Lima. After spending most of her childhood and adolescence as a house slave, she managed to get an education and escape the life of domestic servitude. She founded the group Yanapanakusun to fight the root causes of slavery in Peru. She runs a residential shelter for young slavery survivors, providing medical treatment, education, psychological support and legal aid.
All three winners will receive assistance from Free the Slaves to support their work. They will visit the U.S. to inspire others in the anti-slavery movement. We’ll tell you more about these amazing women, and have more details about the Fourth Annual Freedom Award events later this year.
Put on your walking shoes, it’s time for a Freedom Walk. Free-them is putting on their second annual Freedom Walk on September 18th 2011. Some of this year’s guests include politicians, survivors, celebrities, and Canada’s leading abolitionists. It’s a family friendly event with activities for children before the 5km walk begins. What a great way to join the movement! Click here for more information and to register. The Freedom Walk info
- Energy Publisher: Human trafficking begins to eclipse drug trade in Mexico: “Unfortunately, [Mexico's President] Calderón’s attack on drug cartels has left few resources to combat human trafficking. Mexico has tried to address the issue through legal changes to combat trafficking as recently as 2007, when ‘federal legislation to prohibit all forms of drug trafficking’ was passed. Nonetheless, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking of Persons Report 2010, ‘some local officials tolerate and are sometimes complicit in trafficking, impeding the implementation of anti-trafficking statutes.’”
- CTV: In Winnipeg, Canada, MP Honors Survivors of Human Trafficking: “Timea Nagy was the daughter of police officer in Budapest, Hungry. In 1998, she answered an ad to be a nanny in Toronto, but when she arrived the ‘agency’ that brought her to Canada made her work at a strip club and in the sex trade instead… ‘You don’t know who to trust and you don’t know anything about Canada or the Canadian people. The only thing you know is what they’re telling you in your own language, which is Canadians are going to take you and rape you and kill you,’ Nagy said. Nagy rescued herself after two and a half months by buying a dictionary to learn English and getting help from other employees at the strip club.”
- The Nation: The Wall Comes Tumbling Down: ”At a news conference on a farm outside of Immokalee in southwest Florida, Jon Esformes, operating partner of the fourth-generation, family-owned Pacific Tomato Growers—one of the five largest growers in the nation with more than 14,000 acres in the US and Mexico—declared, “In a free society, few are guilty, but all are responsible.” And with that he announced an agreement with the 4000-memberCoalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to implement a penny per pound pay raise—which stands to increase workers’ annual earnings from about $10,000 to as much as $17,000—and establish a code of conduct that includes an external complaint resolution system, shade and protective equipment in the fields, and a worker-to-worker education process on their rights under the new agreement.
FRANCE FORCIBLY REMOVES THOUSANDS OF ROMA PEOPLE, SAYS ROMA COMMUNITIES ARE ‘BREEDING GROUNDS’ FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING. EU THREATENS LEGAL ACTION
- ABC News: EU taking France to court over Roma expulsions: France’s “controversial expulsions of thousands of Roma [or gypsy people] has led to a row between Brussels and Paris. French president Nicolas Sarkozy has said the illegal Roma camps are breeding grounds for [human] trafficking, prostitution and child exploitation. But the EU’s justice commissioner recently compared France’s actions to events during World War II.”
- Human Rights Watch: France: Reject Anti-Roma Bill: The bill expands France’s power “to expel foreigners deemed to pose a threat to public order, including those liable to prosecution for… drug trafficking, human trafficking, profiting from prostitution by others, exploitation of begging, certain kinds of aggravated theft, and abusive occupation of land under the terms of a 2000 law regulating sites for gens de voyage (the French community known as ‘travelers’).” But, the AFP reports that of the “hundreds of Romanian Roma expelled, none had a criminal record.”
Actress Fairuza Balk, herself of Roma descent, recently decried the forced expulsion of Roma people from France. On her blog, Balk pointed her followers to two online Roma rights resources: RomaRights.net and Roma Rights Centre.
- Guardian: ‘Slavery’ uncovered on trawlers fishing for Europe: “Forced labour and human rights abuses involving African crews have been uncovered on trawlers fishing illegally for the European market by investigators for an environmental campaign group. The Environmental Justice Foundation found conditions on board including incarceration, violence, withholding of pay, confiscation of documents, confinement on board for months or even years, and lack of clean water.”
- MSNBC: Canadian court strikes down prostitution law: “The sex-trade workers who launched the constitutional challenge argued the restrictions forced them to work in secrecy and on the street, and thus made them more vulnerable to violence from both clients and pimps… ‘This means that we no longer have to be afraid. That we can work with the appropriate authorities,’ said Valerie Scott, an advocate for sex-trade workers’ rights in Toronto.