In this fight against human-trafficking, we have to combat this evil from all sides. We know that we have to be on the lookout for trafficking situations all the time. Awareness is so important. We saw this power first-hand after reporting a trafficking situation in Eastern Europe. Our report put authorities on the trail of a major trafficking ring. Within a few months, 24 traffickers were arrested.
We have to know how trafficking operates in order to recognize a dangerous situation. Today, I want to tell you about the single-most common method for enslaving Romanian women. It’s called the “Loverboy Method.” This pernicious scheme starts when a trafficker targets a young, low-income woman. He showers her with attention and affection. He asks her out. For a small while, he spares no expense to treat her like a queen. It’s all part of a plot to win her trust. Once the trafficker and the victim are romantically involved, he will invite her on a getaway trip. Sometimes he will ask her to move away with him for “a better life.” Since the woman is usually in love at this point, she often goes with him happily. When they’re out of the country, the trafficker strikes. Often, he will confiscate her passport and documents before taking her phone. He then passes this precious woman off to another trafficker. At this point, the woman has been enslaved until partners like ours across Europe can rescue her and bring her to a place like the first Sanctuary. It’s terrifying to think of the scale of this deception. Every year, 250,000 people are trafficked into Europe alone. At least 77% of the survivors we encounter in Europe are from Romania. When we hear their stories, we hear about traffickers using the Loverboy Method over and over again. We are fighting this evil. Already, we have formed strategic partnerships across Europe and locally near the first Sanctuary. We are part of a coalition of 60 anti-trafficking organizations. Together, we’re developing international strategies to stamp out the Loverboy Method. Near the first Sanctuary, the local government has asked us to conduct prevention seminars. They will train local parents, educators, law enforcement, and students in how to recognize and avoid traffickers. It’s one more way that unlocking the first Sanctuary will secure freedom for hundreds, even thousands of survivors! Let’s keep fighting to end trafficking and unlock transformation for survivors. We hold the keys to freedom! Warmly, Kim Westfall