The following words are written by a courageous and passionate young lady who is involved on the frontline in making a real and meaningful difference in the lives of women who have been trafficked to one of the most “beautiful” islands in Europe, for the purpose of sexual exploitation. These words are both harrowing and shocking, but they are not fictional, nor are they far-fetched. They are the very real, and all too common reality for the trafficked, exploited and enslaved in Cyprus. I am posting this today partly because it’s Freedom Friday, but also partly because I received word just this afternoon that the lady who wrote these words is in need of funding to carry on the incredible work that she is involved in. We are certainly exploring ways that we can help out financially. If you’d like to do the same, please email me at email@example.com and I’ll sort that out.
TURTLES, TARTS + TRUTH
Tara the turtle, struggles to reach the surface of the beach from the cocoon like hole 40cm under the sand made by her mother who had swum the waters of the Mediterranean for twenty years before coming and laying her eggs on a Cyprus beach. To ensure her coolness her mother had shovelled tons of sand over the eggs of her and her brothers and sisters. The weight of sand seemed impossible for one so tiny but once on the surface, slightly confused by the lights from the shore in the darkness of the night, she heads for the moonlight reflecting off the open water of the sea and made her escape. She is barley conscious of the mostly young folk who are standing by to be certain she would make it, clearing rubbish from her path, unaware of the cramped quarters that they had volunteered to sleep in with dim lights and uncomfortable mattresses and the many kilometres a day that they walked – but they love it and feel they are doing something useful in the world. Tara’s only desire is to head for the sea… one day in twenty years or so she would return voluntarily and lay her eggs and government legislation by the department of environmental protection would ensure that she was protected and so would be her children…
Meanwhile in the nearby town Tamara the tart, as they called her, a ‘waitress’ from Moldova struggles under the weight of her third ‘client’ of the night, and unbelievably obese and stinking man, not just the garlic from whatever he ate and his belches from time to time, but from his unwashed bulk as he writhes away in the semidarkness and the July heat of the cramped matchbox sized room, illuminated by a 25 watt bulb hanging from a short flex from the high ceiling. The fan that he knocked over the last time he came clanks in the corner; not that much air reaches Tamara buried in the all two thin mattress by the pounding body on top of her. He curses in a foreign tongue as his overweight stomach does not allow him to function as well as he wants; the bruises on her back don’t allow her to ‘lie back and think of home’. The bruises were from her most recent beating for not pleasing a prominent client by not doing what he wanted. How was she to know that he was the mayor of *****koy. OK so he had shaved and put on deodorant, but how was she to know that he would want that? It was to disgusting to even contemplate. The smelly overweight client number three climaxes and removes his carcass from off her diminutive body. Dripping he dresses, and with a grunt disappears out of the door. He, like the others, will probably return, Tamara by contrast is stuck, trapped, trafficked and possessed.
As she cleans her aching self she recalls for the thousandth time how she got here and wonders how she could have been so stupid… the woman that recruited her said she would do especially well at the waitressing work as she was pretty – ‘bar owners like a pretty waitress to attract the customers’. “You might do a bit of dancing too”. Tamara doesn’t feel pretty anymore – she glances in the bit of broken mirror and applies some of the limited supply of makeup to the bruise on her face you’d think the doctors would notice them when they were taken for the only escape out of this prison cell to be tested for STD’s each week you’d think they would notice the needle mark from the drug she is now addicted to, that they forced on her. Is that man that who escorts them a policeman? It’s different from home it certainly looks like a police uniform… it is the same men who escorted her and guarded at the hospital when she arrived and handed her over to her boss. She shudders as she thinks how he sneers and fingers his gun. She thinks of her children, Cristina 7 – or is she 8 by now- she have lost all track of time – Andrei must still be 5 and with a tear in her eye she remembers her husband Viku. A good man – but depressed at not being able to provide for his wife and family a shadow for his former self because his children always had the best of what food there was… perhaps he has a job now, perhaps he would come to this supposedly beautiful island and rescue her… “I’m going to earn money to send so you can have nice clothes and food Tamara told them…” but no money had ever been forthcoming – taken in ‘fines’ for not pleasing customers and to pay for her now desperately needed drug supply. The scraping open of the door indicates the arrival of her next client – she looks at him – he is only a boy, doesn’t look as though he’s even used a razor yet – perhaps he will be gentle – perhaps he’s been brought by his father to initiate him into the ways of the world. As Tamara lies back and the teen fumbles to discover what he’s supposed to she wonders what the next 8 9 or 10 men will be like before the night is over.
She wonders too if there are any people on the island who realise what is happening on their doorstep; are there any who thirst after righteousness? Before her view is blocked she glances at the light. The cord is too short to be of any use… there is not even a chair to reach the bulb socket… if there is a hell this must be it… stuck, trapped, trafficked and possessed, unable even to see anyway to end it all. “Is there nobody in the community around that cares enough?” “Do they not no what truth is?” the women who tricked her and sold her here had said there were even still turtles in North Cyprus you don’t see those in poverty stricken landlocked Moldova…
In the TRNC anti trafficking laws were drafted in 2007, but never passed into law. The weekly testing of nightclub and similar employees for STD’s suggests at the very least tacit acceptance of the practice of trafficking people into prostitution in the TRNC by the authorities. Worldwide the problem of human trafficking is almost overwhelming. By 2015 it will become the world’s lucrative organised crime overtaking drug trafficking. Roughly 27million people are held in slavery today. The majority of those trafficked are women and children. Every two minutes a child is prepared for exploitation. The action taken to protect the turtle population is vital for the continuation of the species. Will you take action to protect vulnerable human beings to? Martin Luther King Jr. said, “In justice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”