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Book Review: I Have a Voice – Trafficked Women – in their own words

July 29th, 2016

I Have a Voice – Trafficked Women – in their own words  
Sr. Angela Reed, RSM, and Marietta Latonio
Illustrations by Sr. Venus Marie Pegar, SFX
Published by Our Community Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Australia
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Book review by: Mary O’Herron

IhaveavoicethumbThis book tells stories in words and powerful pictures of 22 women involved in human trafficking in Cebu City, Philippines, and is based on a study by Sr. Angela Reed, RSM.

The stories, though usually only a page, are very tough to read: often of young girls pushed or lured into prostitution

In one section of the book called Points to Ponder, some generalities emerge – these are the conditions that create vulnerability to trafficking of those whose stories are told in this book.

Family-of-origin poverty (The author points out that many people in the world are poor, but not all are trafficked, so other factors besides poverty play a part in creating vulnerability. She found that family situations played a very large part. Violence, drugs, alcohol abuse and a sense of low value put on individuals in the family created conditions that led to these girls being abused outside the family or being trafficked.

Isolation – living in rural areas, especially where there were scant educational opportunities, intersecting with some of these other conditions contributed to vulnerability.

Drugs and alcohol abuse — by parents or other close family members played a part in many of the stories.

Absence of mothers and fathers — for a variety of reasons was commonplace in the stories. Grandmothers often became caregivers.

Abuse, including sexual abuse of children by family members or close members of their communities – as well as other physical, emotional, verbal and financial abuses were often present in their lives before being trafficked. The girls in these stories often stayed quiet about abuse because they had no one with whom they could talk about it – no one they could trust. The effects of childhood abuse can play out later in life – depression, guilt, shame, self-blame, eating disorders, anxiety, and denial. It can affect relationships causing them to be unhealthy and harmful.

Educational opportunities were sparse or non-existent for many of these women. Most did not get beyond elementary school. Abuse, especially sexual abuse, can affect ability to learn and understand. Peers offered support at times in these stories but sometimes encouraged the use of drugs and alcohol.

Many in these stories started working as domestic helpers, which are noted for low wages and often abuse.

General Format of the book:

The book is divided into three basic sections and has:

  • The story told by one of the women/girls.
  • An illustration of her and symbols of her story.
  • Reflection questions for the reader.
  • A section placing each part into context.

Basic take-away from this book: family of origin plays a huge part in creating vulnerability to trafficking, especially where poverty, isolation, violence, drug, alcohol and other abuses are present.



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