An Open Letter to Ireland

26 Sep

I wrote this letter as response to a couple of things, one I had been given a short assignment in college to pick one Right from the Declaration of Human Rights and write a brief account of where I felt our country, Ireland was in breach of that Right.  Having only escaped prostitution about 14mths previous to this, Article 4 was the only one my mind could possibly focus on.

I had also once tried to get a dear friend of mine out of the country and back to her homeland.  We had managed to retrieve her passport and she stayed with me until we could organise a flight.  During that week I spoke to a relative of hers to let them know that she would be returning and what the arrangements were.  I will always remember their voice and words.  My friend never got on that flight, the pimp got to her first.  This assignment made me think of that heartbreaking moment for her and her family.

I have a daughter and I wondered how unimaginable it would be if she was trapped in another country to be sexually exploited every day.  What would I do? we all watch the movie “Taken” and believe that that would be how we would react but not all fathers have the “particular set of skills” needed to retrieve their daughters.  So I thought about what if I was one of the many fathers with lost daughters  and what would I say to the country holding her captive and below are those words….

 

Dear Ireland,

I am writing this letter out of shear desperation, as Ireland you have something belonging to me, something so precious and loved by me and that is my daughter.  She is only 18 and left her home to start a new life in Ireland, but Ireland you didn’t give her the dream of a new life, you gave her a nightmare.  For you committed the ultimate crime Ireland, you took her freedom, you took everything she once was, for Ireland you are holding my dear daughter captive so she can service the men of your country.

What have you become Ireland that you allow this happen, what has happened the men of your country that they have turned Ireland into a multi-million euro sex haven, such is Ireland’s appetite for sex, that it now tolerates and allows our daughters to be bought in to satisfy these needs and in doing so our daughters, lose their human rights, and are violated, raped, exploited.  Oh Ireland this pain is so deep for me, never did I imagine watching my little girl grow up, that she could be taken from me in such a vile way and by a country I once admired.

I need to ask you a question Ireland and I need you to answer it honestly please, do you think that if it was evil men from America enslaving young American girls in Ireland, do you think it would be tolerated, do you think America would tolerate it, is that it Ireland, is it that you only enslave the daughters, sisters, mothers and loved ones of the countries that hold no power, are of no value to you.   Please tell me that it isn’t true Ireland, please show me that I am wrong in my thinking of you.

In 1948 Ireland you signed an agreement, a Declaration of Human Rights, why did you sign it?  Article 4: No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.  Again I ask you Ireland, why did you sign it, if you don’t believe it, if you can’t stand by it, you lied Ireland, you lied.

But there are now good Irish men and women, standing up to what has happened Ireland, they want to stop this, they want to return our daughters, they want to protect them and they want to make the people who have committed these crimes against our daughters pay.  Ireland you must standby your police, who have wanted to stop this slavery for so long but their hands have been tied, please untie their hands and let them protect my child.  I’m calling on, begging the good men in Ireland to hear me, to help me, to stand up and let the rest of Ireland know that this sexual slavery cannot and will not be allowed to continue.

Mr. President of Ireland, I have heard that you are a good man, who has insight and  knowledge into your country, more than any president that has gone before you, you have fought for justice, equality  and freedom your whole life.  What has happened Ireland Mr.President?  A country that fought for its own freedom and now allows the freedom of young women to be robbed, how has it happened, how?  I speak to you not as a president but as one father to another, as a father can you imagine my pain, I can no longer sleep, when I know my child is kept up night after night in Ireland, in pain, alone, afraid, lost and abused by Irish men.  Oh please Mr. President I beg you, speak to your government, tell them to change the law so my daughter can be placed in the arms of the good Irish people.

Ireland you are now aware of what is happening in your country, your reporter showed you what our daughters are subjected too, I now place my beloved daughters life in your hands and can only pray you will save her and return her home, I realise that the daughter that left will not be the same one returning, Ireland has made sure of that.  I must go now Ireland, as my heart is heavy and my tears are stinging my face, please Ireland if you have any humanity at all, you will stop this, if you don’t Ireland, I’m afraid I will never be able to forgive you, for you have stolen the most precious thing in a father’s life, his daughter.

Mia De Faoite,

On behalf of every father, brother, uncle, son and loved one of the young women who Ireland is keeping enslaved.

Prostitution and Sex-trafficking: An analytic truth

5 May

Prostitution and sex-trafficking are intrinsically linked; you have one because of the other. Our deep connection is through the demand for our bodies because we are bought, used, exploited, humiliated and raped by the same offenders and that cruel bond can never be broken by anyone, at any time, in any county. Though some policy makers, governments and radical academics will do their best to try to disconnect us but their denial of the truth is both futile and illogical, it is an analytic truth and for it is only the fool that does not acknowledge that.

For nearly eighteen months I stood alongside a trafficked woman, we became extremely close although we met in secret, as she was always under the watchful eye of her master.  I have never met a woman so broken down and as much as I loved and cared for her, I could not break the unhealthy attachment or twisted sense of loyalty she had for her controller.  She would defend him if he beat her, she was at times desperate to please him and yet something inside her longed to be free but freedom was a concept she had lost all sense of.

I tried to help her escape and took her to my home and that first night I will never forget, I said I would run her a bath as she looked exhausted.  I ran the bath, left out a towel and called her in.  I left her to relax and went in the other room, I was closing the window, when she called me, I turned around and what I saw shocked me to the core, for there in front of me my friend stood naked, but she had the body of a child, her rips stuck out, there were no breasts, it was covered in old bruises, new bruises, scratches, she looked like someone who’d just been released from a concentration camp, my eyes welled up but I did not want her to see me cry, so I brought her into the bathroom again, she had called me to wash her hair for her as her arms were sore, I washed her hair, took her out of the bath, and she sat in between my legs on the floor as I brushed and blow-dried her hair, she was humming just like a child, I put her to bed and sat beside her until she fell asleep. And then I cried and cried for the lost child I had just put to bed, I’ll never forget the image I saw but this was nott a concentration camp, in Poland in 1945, this was my apartment, Dublin, 2010, there is no war but there is no law to protect either.

My lost friend returned to her master, she had only tasted freedom for five days and could not understand it, she could no longer think for herself.  The one and only thing that removed my friend’s freedom was prostitution, we can blame the traffickers and pimps but they only exist because of the offenders, men who believe they have a right to buy other human beings.

Some months ago I went on an outing to Dublin Zoo with the survivors of prostitution and sex-trafficking and their children.  We had stopped to see the giraffe’s, they have a new enclosure since I’d last been there and a new baby giraffe.  I picked my friends little girl up to show her, they’re giraffes I said and they come all the way from Africa, she was not that bothered, she like all toddlers was more concerned with trying to climb the fence.

But I looked back around at the giraffe’s, beautiful, graceful creatures from Africa, and then it occurred to me, we bring these animals to our country so that children get to see them. We treat them so well, give them the appropriate shelter, food and settings so they can grow, be healthy and happy, and rightly so.  But they are not the only thing that we now import to Ireland, for we now import women and children from Africa to satisfy the needs of a certain type of man and it is not to be admired and treated with respect like the giraffe’s, oh no it is for very different reasons and none of them have anything to do with admiration and respect.  I picked up that little girl again, I hugged her and kissed her cheek and I apologized to her on behalf of my country, I apologized for what has happened to her beautiful mother but I told her things were about to change.  I felt such shame but it was not the toxic shame, we as prostituted women live with, no this was different, this was shame for my homeland.

Silence is golden, they say, no it is not, peace and serenity is golden, silence can be deadly.  Why has Ireland stayed silent for so long regarding the purchase of human beings for sex because it places a different value on women like me and a different value on the women that are trafficked into this country.  It is something most people would not admit to, placing the value of one woman over another, sometimes they don’t even see it.  But I only have to think what would be happening if the women were being trafficked in from America or Germany, do you think we would tolerated it then, I think not, so if I was a woman born to a “respectable” family from Manhattan, I would be rescued, supported and returned home safely, for America is of great value to us, but if I am born into poverty, uneducated and tricked into coming here from a Eastern European country, I am not entitled to the same treatment because that country is of no value to us, how do we decide this, what right do we have to decide which human being is more valuable than the other.

Human trafficking is the modern day slavery and sexual slavery is the most appalling of crimes, for it removes human beings of all their human rights and dignity.  To do nothing is to play an active role in it happening.  The world over is waking up to this, my country has no choice but to stand up to it.  For freedom is something Ireland had to fight for itself, so we should have no struggle with fighting to protect the freedom of others, no matter what country they come from.

Prostitution is, was and always will be an absolute affront to human dignity and I know that because I have lived it.  Just two and a half years ago I stood on a lonely street having been stripped of every piece of dignity I ever owned and everything I thought I once was had turned on me, despite me.

Sweden did the right thing in the name of freedom, justice and equality, Norway and Iceland followed and now it is Irelands turn and we must not let an opportunity to evoke a social change for the greater good pass us by, for my government does not have the right to continue to let tragic lives become absurd.

In finish, one’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life’s of others, that is my wish for my country, that it attributes value to the lives of the trafficked, the coerced, the displaced, the isolated, the damaged, the addicted, in essence the haunted majority of which I was once one.

Mia de Faoite

Why Ireland Needs the Criminalisation of Demand

30 Mar

Prostitution – the purchase of another human being for sex, is not and never has been the purchase of sex, because neither I nor any of the other women stand on the street or in the brothels with our genitalia and our mouths and throats in neatly wrapped packages which you could borrow and return to us in 20mins. No, I had go with them, you had to talk to me first, my mind was present the whole time. You always have to buy the person before you gain access to their body. So you must ask yourself one question, Do you believe that people have the right to buy other human beings?

When I ask anyone this question, of course they say No but when I ask them Do you believe that people have the right to buy other human beings for the purpose of their own sexual gratification?, they sometimes hesitate, I understand where this hesitation comes from, because they think “well if they are offering it”, what’s the problem, two consenting adults, a business transaction!! I say no, this question requires a yes/no answer, you either believe it or you don’t, end of. I stood on that street selling myself but I always knew they had no right to buy me.

There are many reasons why women find themselves in prostitution and all of them have nothing to do with feeling empowered, and even if they did feel delusionally empowered, I don’t care if she is offering herself up in a gold bikini on a silver platter in the pent house suite of the Berkeley Court Hotel, no one actually has the right to buy her, period!!

Rape does become part of the job, so much so that we don’t really use the term rape, we don’t have permission to, we might allude to it but then its ignored and the subject is changed. Many become desensitised to the pain of others, because if you knowledge someone else’s pain, you may just have to acknowledge your own, and we don’t have anywhere to place or deal with that pain, so some bury it, some use substances to forget it, some disconnect from it and unfortunately some accept it as routine.

I often wonder what people would be saying if they were breaking our bones, because to be honest with you I’d rather be writing this with a few healed bones than half the crap I have to live with in my head.  If the offenders were breaking our bones, would the pro-prostitution lobby be fighting for stronger crutches to hold us up while we work? – water resistant plaster casts, support heists in the brothel beds, etc?  Rape is an invisible violent crime, so how do people view the rape of a prostituted woman? – And I’m not looking for an answer; I unfortunately already know.

People ask me how many men, I was bought by 4-5 offenders, 2-3 nights a week, at least 45 weeks of the year for 6yrs and that is an equation I will never do in my head.  I’m a survivor of a vicious gang rape, an attack which my friend did not survive and I have never seen the world the same way since.  I was no “sex worker”, I was a trapped mind who lived in a body that no longer belonged to me, in fact I was a disconnected, drug addicted, walking rape victim, we all were.

Some may say that we will never end prostitution, well that doesn’t mean that we do nothing either, unfortunately in this world there will always be people willing to exploit the vulnerable, to make profit off the bodies of other human beings because nobody, not even the most equal societies in the world have found the cure for the human condition and all its complexities.  You can pull the plug on technology, you can open more safe houses and instil support systems but it is only legislation that curbs human behaviour; that is in fact why the justice system exists in the first place.  And when a man makes a conscious decision to go out and purchase the body of another human being to do with it what he wants, that is unacceptable human behaviour. We should never be bound by history, Ireland should know this more than most, for history is a series of processes through which humanity must be found and on this issue it is so long overdue and I for one, have had enough.

In the last 3yrs alone 29 children have been rescued from sexual slavery in Ireland, where do you think the children are kept? They are raped and abused in the same brothels as the adults, so I ask you, who pay’s the ultimate price under tolerating regimes?  This is not acceptable to me, this should not be acceptable to anyone and on that basis alone prostitution should be outlawed.

Legislation should always reflect the values of a country, at the moment bodily integrity is not valued in Ireland even though the protection of bodily integrity is enshrined in our constitution and gender equality is not possible while women are up for sale, we will never stand shoulder to shoulder with our male counterparts so long as it is still acceptable for us to be on our knees or backs at their mercy.

At the moment our country is also debating marriage and how much we value it and who is entitled to that right, but at the same time we have a system where by it is acceptable for offenders to make a complete mockery of the commitments they made, because although I wasn’t counting wedding rings, I would agree that up to 60-70% of offenders are married or in committed relationships, I have always believed that these women have a right to know, they have a right to know what goes on in the back seat of the car, the very car they might be bringing the children to school in the next morning.  The commitments these women have made must be valued and treated with integrity the opposite of which is hypocrisy and this hypocrisy must end.

The sex industry is both a cruel and disturbing place, run by criminals and all efforts must be made to bring it to its knees and the only way to do that is to cut off what makes it exist in the first place, the offenders, men who believe they have a right to buy other human beings. I want legislation that will fine offenders, jail the real pimps and coercers and send a clear message out to the traffickers to start packing and get the hell off our island because women are no longer  for sale.

Mia De Faoite

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