#sextrafficking | Charlotte Gainsbourg on How Motherhood Opened Her Eyes to Human Trafficking | #tinder | #pof | #match

As a former correspondent for Jeune Afrique and for Radio France Internationale, De Lavarene regularly wrote about issues pertaining to human rights. Still, her first trip to Bosnia in 2000 was eye-opening. “We met more than 3,000 girls during our time there, and not one told me that they chose to be there,” she says. “They had been lured with false promises of work then locked away with their passports taken. People believe that this is like the movies, escorts in pretty dresses who use sex to make money. The reality is that these girls have been drugged, beaten, and taken from their homes.”

In Paris, De Lavarene works one-on-one with women who have survived exploitation, but the problem is truly international. Its intersection with regional politics and economics adds another layer of difficulty. Unstable economies, war, and even health crises like the current COVID-19 pandemic can create a breeding ground for traffickers. Rates of exploration rise during periods of chaos, and more than 75% of the world’s humanitarian organizations are on hiatus, according to the Global Protection Cluster. For De Lavarene, these situations give rise to lasting problems. “When there is conflict, unrest, or war, you have no structure [and] the vulnerable become targets,” she says. “Traffickers know that smuggling people will always get the money. We saw it in Nigeria with Boko Haram and in Syria with Daesh. One of the reasons the problem is rarely addressed is because the industry consistently generates a lot of money. As such, there is an absence of political will to fight this.”

When it comes to charitable initiatives, many celebrities opt for easy-to-join movements; in the age of Instagram challenges and charity singles, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a famous person who isn’t trying to draw attention to a worthy cause. Still, issues like human trafficking come with a layer of controversy and ignorance. Often conflated with sex work, the topic is considerably more complex, intersecting with other offenses like kidnapping, drug smuggling, and child pornography. As such, trafficking’s impact is rarely fully appreciated; outside the human-rights community, it isn’t a trending topic despite its prevalence. Misconceptions abound, and Gainsbourg admits that even she had to educate herself about the topic before grasping its significance. “It was quite a surprise to me, learning how big of a deal it was and that it was not prostitution,” she says. “Before I would have mixed them up, but after getting to know Celhia, I came to understand that these girls are not receiving any money. They’re drugged, raped, and forced into this life.”


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