Things That Matter

She Spent 37 Years As A Sex Slave And Is Now Fighting To Free All People From That Life

This past week was the week that the world brought attention to an issue that affects an estimated 40.3 million people around the globe, human trafficking. For Uruguayan Sandra Ferrini, 58, it was exposing a past that had followed her for most of her entire life. Ferrini was “sold” by her mother as a teenager into the world of street prostitution and after 37 years on the city streets of Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and in Europe, her story is now ready to be told. 

According to a report from the International Labour Organization, there are around 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world, with 1 in 4 victims being children. 

Credit: @imrebeccabender / Twitter

On Tuesday, Uruguay participated in its first anti-human trafficking march, with Ferrini joining countless of others who like her had to endure sex trafficking for years. Campaigners took to the streets of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, where in the country of 3.5 million people, the most common form of human trafficking involves women and girls where they are forced into sex work.

For Ferrnini, the march was something that was on her mind all the years she had no voice on the issue and couldn’t speak up about the horrendous conditions she was placed in. She says many people choose to ignore the issue or just not address it all together.

“It’s a march that I thought about when I was held captive,” Ferrini told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Human trafficking happens every day, but people don’t want to see it. We are seen as numbers. We want to be seen as people. We will march as people.”

The details of Ferrnini past experience is just one example of the countless lives that face these situations on a daily basis. She says that she was sexually exploited for 37 years and was even forced to have sex with up to 30 men a day.

“I am a survivor of trafficking. It was my mother who sold me at the beginning,” Ferrini told Subrayado. “I was able to get rid at 45 because I had a traffic accident in which I was paralyzed. They were going to kill me, they threw me in a field, and a person rescued me.”

Human trafficking remains a global issue and the United Nations has set out to bring awareness and combat this growing issue. 

Credit: @peacerec1 / Twitter

Uruguay is one of the biggest epicenters when it comes to human trafficking. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons report, Uruguay was placed in its Tier 2 Watch List, which is the second-lowest ranking. This was done as the country has not meet many of the minimum standards when it comes to efforts in eliminating human trafficking.

“Most detected victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation; victims are also trafficked for forced labor, recruitment as child soldiers and other forms of exploitation and abuse,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the United Nations on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. “Thousands of people have died at sea, in deserts and in detention centres, at the hands of traffickers and migrant smugglers plying their monstrous, merciless trades.”

For Uruguay, this is hopefully just the start of acknowledging and bringing to light the global issue of human trafficking. 

Credit: @sabre_comp / Twitter

There has been some progress in recent years when it comes to decreasing the number of sex trafficking victims. In 2017, Uruguay’s National Institute for Women assisted 172 women trafficking victims which was an increase from the previous year at 131, the U.S. State Department said.

There has also been legislative work put in place as last year Uruguay updated its anti-human trafficking law and action plan. The country also just recently created a new national committee to help combat it’s anti-trafficking efforts. 

Ferrini now also heads “Yes to Life, No to Trafficking,” a survivors support group. It’s these types of groups and organizations that play a big role in getting women off the streets and rebuilding their lives and most importantly, rebuilding their broken self-esteem. 

“I naturalized this as a child – for me it was something that I thought I had to live,” Ferrini said. “There’s a lot of work to do in education, training and prevention.”

READ: A City Is On Edge After One Of The World’s Most Wanted Men Escapes From A Prison In Central Uruguay

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Trump Supporters March on Washington in ‘Million MAGA March’ to Protest Biden Win

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Trump Supporters March on Washington in ‘Million MAGA March’ to Protest Biden Win

Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Over the weekend, thousands of Trump supporters took to the streets of Washington, D.C. to gather in what they dubbed the “Million MAGA March”. Protestors cheered as Trump’s motorcade drove by the crowds on his way to his golf course in Virginia.

The “MAGA March” Trump supporters gathered to protest what they believe is a “rigged” election.

They are united under the phrase “Stop the Steal,” which is inspired by the President’s assertations that the election was “stolen” through various nefarious methods. The “methods” Trump has alleged are massive voter fraud (untrue), faulty voting machines (untrue), and shady election workers (untrue).

Unfortunately, due to the sea of misinformation on the internet, these MAGA marchers are convinced that democracy has been thwarted. They don’t believe there is any way that Trump could have lost the election if the election was free and fair. No matter what evidence they are presented with, their world view remains the same: Trump was cheated.

According to reporters on the ground, dozens of members of the Proud Boys group were in attendance–the white nationalist group that Trump gave a shout-out to during the first presidential debate.

Also in attendance were QAnon conspiracy theorists, boogaloo boys, and Confederate sympathizers. And of course, there were just those who were there to support the president without being part of any far-right groups.

After nightfall, smatterings of violence broke out between the marchers and counter-protestors. According to The Washington Post, activists “spewed profanity and shouted threats, threw punches and launched bottles.” At least 20 people were arrested. According to The Post, at least one counter protestor was stabbed.

While the protestors (and Trump himself) boasted to the public that there were hundreds of thousands of attendees, the Washington D.C. park service estimates that less than 12,000 people were present. For comparison, roughly 470,000 people attended the 2017 Washington Women’s March after Trump was elected.

The diminutive size of the so-called “Million MAGA March” got more than a few laughs on the internet.

Once again, Twitter users got a kick out of Trump’s insistence that the crowds he draws are huge–when they’re usually pretty underwhelming.

Jokes abounded about the Trump’s counting skills–which seemed to have been failing him a lot lately.

Is it possible that he got his diploma at one of his defunct for-profit universities? That would explain his struggle identifying simple figures.

But this man made an astute observation about the amount of people there.

No matter how you count it, the numbers add up in the end.

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A Chilean Police Officer Is Charged With Attempted Murder After Throwing a Protestor Off Of a Bridge

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A Chilean Police Officer Is Charged With Attempted Murder After Throwing a Protestor Off Of a Bridge

Photo by Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images

Earlier this month, a police officer in Santiago, Chile was captured on video pushing a 16-year-old male demonstrator off of a bridge. The boy fell into the canal below, fracturing his wrist and suffering head trauma. He was transported to the hospital and is in stable condition.

The violent video sparked an additional wave of protests against the Carabineros–Chile’s militarized national police force that the officer was a part of.

Before the video surfaced, witnesses who were protesting voiced their anger at the police officer’s actions and demanded that he be brought to justice. Initially, a spokesperson for the Carabineros, General Enrique Monrás, denied any wrongdoing on the part of the officer, claiming that the boy “lost balance and fell”.

Monrás claimed the police force even had footage that refuted the purported events. But when the footage of the boy being pushed over the bridge went public, there was no question as to what happened.

The footage of the incident went viral in Chile, prompting a surge of demonstrations and protests in Santiago–a city already racked with civil unrest.

CLAUDIO REYES/AFP via Getty Images)

Days later, Chile opened up an investigation against the police officer, saying the officer “gave false information to the Prosecutor’s Office” and had “abandoned the victim” after throwing him off the bridge. The officer’s lawyer says he was following procedure. Nevertheless, by then the damage had been done.

Following the incident, protestors threw red die into the canal, making it look like it was running red with the metaphorical blood of protestors. The protests are part of an ongoing civil unrest that was sparked by economic inequality in Chile as well as President Sebastián Piñera’s failure to address the people’s concerns.

To make matters worse, the Piñera government has responded to the protests with excessive violence.

In the last year, Chile has been making headlines for permanently blinding protestors with rubber bullets. Protestors claim that Caballeros are deliberately shooting people in the eyes, aiming to blind them for life.

This most recent incident has simply served to bolster the protestors’ claims that they are being treated brutally by the Chilean government. “The police are violent. We can’t bear it anymore,” said a protestor named Carmen Soria to Al Jazeera News. “They’ve raped, tortured, run people over, blinded others, and now, they’re throwing people in the Mapocho river. The government doesn’t want us to protest, doesn’t want us to gather together, but they don’t care that we gather in the busses and in subways like sardines to go to work.”

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