How It Feels to Survive Slavery: Ira’s story

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How It Feels to Survive Slavery: Ira’s story

Crime & Justice, TerraViva United Nations, Women’s Health Feb 7 2018 (IOM) – “A client called at night and ordered a girl. I was sleeping when suddenly I was told to go to the client. He was already drunk and aggressive. I was scared to stay with him. He made me drink and I had to obey. You feel neither pain nor shame when you are drunk. Everything goes easier. I woke up in the morning and got ready to leave when he told me to stay. He told that he had paid for the whole day and I must work it off. The door was closed. He hid the door keys and my phone. He claimed that he had paid for my services and could do with me whatever he wanted… He fell asleep soon again. I didn’t find the keys. I thought I could exit through the window. It was the third floor and there was a fire escape ladder nearby. I decided to climb over the balcony to the ladder. And fell down… Everything happened very quickly. I felt no pain… I remember that I tried to stand up but couldn’t and saw my bones sticking out of my arms. I passed out. I came round in the ambulance. Later – only in the intensive care unit. There I told my name and where I came from. Doctors called my relatives. Later my family moved me back to Belarus. It was super expensive.” Ira is a victim of trafficking in human beings. She survived sexual slavery. It is hard to believe that slavery still exists in the modern world. Today this phenomenon is referred to as “Trafficking in Human Beings” and “traffickers” are subject to criminal liability for the recruitment, detention and exploitation of victims of trafficking. Victims are often psychologically and/or physically injured for the rest of their lives. Hardly ever do they tell their stories to others because most likely they will be criticized and blamed for what has happened to them. Ira agreed to tell her story for other girls to be aware of a hidden danger. She tells that no matter how difficult one’s situation in life is, one should always doubt and check what one is offered. There is always a right and opportunity to refuse and leave. The important thing is to stay in touch with relatives before making a decision to accept an offer, and even after, if the decision is already made. Ira is a person in a wheelchair. She has a daughter, work, a dacha where she likes to go in summer, and plans for the future. We were a little bit nervous before meeting with Ira because we knew that her life was not easy. We expected to see a young depressed woman and didn’t know what questions we should ask and what to avoid. When we met Ira, we saw a young woman with a strong will, because only such a person can pluck up all her courage and tell us her story, which she thinks about every day. We saw a brave woman who overcame pain and lives a normal life, works, raises a daughter. Ira is from a small town in the Vitebsk region. She says that she’s never had warm family relationships: her mother spent a lot of time at work due to her high and responsible position. Ira didn’t have close relationships with her sister either, because of a big age difference. “Neither my mother nor my sister was a close friend to me. It seemed to me that my mother didn’t care a lot about us. She got married for the third time; her husband was a few years younger. But she always performed her mother’s responsibilities to ‘dress and feed’ us, and we never struggled to make ends meet,” Ira recalls. Life with Ira’s mother and her new husband went wrong from the very beginning. Ira was a teenager when he moved to their place. The mother was jealous of him. On any occasion he tried either to pinch Ira or to hug her or to pat her hips. He constantly provoked her. Ira ran away from home many times. But she was too young and didn’t have an opportunity to earn money to live on her own. Ira got married very early. Her husband seemed to be a like-minded person, a perfect candidate for her. Soon she gave birth to a daughter and in the beginning everything was quite fine. But years passed and relations became worse. Ira’s young husband didn’t want to work. The family lacked money and didn’t have proper accommodation to live in. They were all the time moving from her mother’s-in-law place to the rented flat and back. “We were too young and fed up with the daily routine,” Ira explains. Ira left her husband and returned to her mother’s place, taking the child with her. But it didn’t make her life easier. Ira’s stepfather turned his spouse against her own daughter, and got irritated if Ira’s mother helped her with the child. As a result, Ira’s mother stopped supporting her although she could. Neither husband nor mother supported and helped Ira. Since the town was tiny and Ira didn’t have a high level of education, it was difficult to find a job. She got a job in a small company but then the company faced economic problems and Ira ended up with nothing. She was desperate about her life when her nei
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On February 8, 2018
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