Los Alamos Women Rally Against Human Trafficking

Women from the First United Methodist Church in Los Alamos gather this afternoon in Pojoaque to protest against human trafficking. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Many motorists passing by the Los Alamos women this afternoon on US 285 honked and waved. One driver pulling up behind the women, and unable to see their banner, rolled down his window and yelled, ‘Is this about Trump?’ The women said no and he smiled and drove on. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com


Los Alamos Daily Post
POJOAQUE — Women from the First United Methodist Church in Los Alamos gathered this afternoon near the Phillips 66 Station in Pojoaque to protest against human trafficking. This is their third year in a row to protest human trafficking for which they say Super Bowl Sunday is the worst day of the year for human trafficking in the United States.
“This is a problem right here in New Mexico … it’s not just happening overseas,” Deaconess Ann LaPage told the Los Alamos Daily Post. “The thing that makes this so difficult is that it is almos an invisible crime … it is so hard to see.”
LaPage said that some people say protesting is a waste of time and ask her why she and the others take their time to protest.
“We need to stand up and use our voices against human trafficking and all social injustices because they won’t get any better if we do nothing,” she said, adding that there may be someone who is a victim who sees this who will know there are people aware of what’s happening and it might give them the courage to seek help.
LaPage said there are two organizations that she knows about in New Mexico involved in helping victims:
The is the sixth year that the United Methodist Church at the national level has held human trafficking protests. The United Methodist Women’s website says that a major myth about human trafficking is that most trafficked persons are taken against their will … snatched off the street, thrown into a van. Or that they are runaways or drug users, exhausted of options, of money, and of hope. Most, at the beginning, are leaving home to pursue a good job abroad. Then they find they have been sold, they owe tens of thousands of dollars and will have to buy themselves back.
Read the words of trafficked women and try to imagine what that journey must be like. And remember that for every victim of sex trafficking worldwide there are nine forced labor and/or domestic servitude cases:
  • I was 19. My boyfriend told me I could be a waitress in Portugal. We had been together for a year and a half. -Lena, Moldova 
  • When I was 24, I visited St. Petersburg. I was preparing to return home to my village, waiting at the train station one day when a woman approached me. She started talking with me about life problems, encouraging me to share mine with her. We had a nice talk, and the woman suggested that she could help me to get work somewhere abroad. She told me she had an acquaintance in Germany, a woman who could connect me with a family for whom I could be a housemaid. -Marsha, Russia
  • He asked if it would be out of place if he said I was pretty. I was like, ‘No.’ I mean, it was a compliment. He said that he was a model agent, [that] he was looking for new models in the area. They said they were on their way to California to go back to their office and they were going to do some more photo shoots, and they wanted me to go along with them. He said that I could probably make about a thousand or more. … He said I could try it for three days. … And so I went with them. -Miya, United States
  • A friend I knew from the market in Nakhon Sawan told me about the opportunity to work in factories in Japan. I had divorced my Thai husband when I was four months pregnant and now my son was three years old and I had to raise him by myself and was finding it difficult to make enough money. My parents asked me not to go, but I thought if I went for just one year I could make money for my family and son. I was surprised to be locked up because I was not allowed any chance to say goodbye to my family, even over the phone. I heard the agents talking about the price for each woman being between 150-160 bai [1.5-1.6 million yen; US$10,000-11,000], but I couldn’t really understand what they were talking about and did not realize that we were being sold into prostitution. I was feeling suspicious but still wasn’t clear about what was going on. -Pot, Thailand
  • Geanna told me she could not find a family who would hire me as a housemaid. She said I owed her 2,000 German marks (about $1,000 USD) and said that I would earn that money by providing sexual services to men. I was afraid to say no because she had taken my passport, and I didn’t know any German. She and her husband, who was a drug dealer, threatened to beat me if I tried to leave, and said if I went to the police, I would be deported. -Marsha, Russia
  • Damir took us to a house where the streets are dirty and we see beggars and even rats during the day. We were nervous because we were expecting something very different than that. When we entered the house it smelled as bad as the ship. There were many girl’s magazines, wine bottles and cigarettes on the floor. Some men were sitting inside, they laughed and looked at us in a bad way and speak to Damir in Italian, which we did not understand. I asked him who they are, but the polite young man from my father’s shop grab my arm and said something very bad in Albanian. He hit me on the face. I fell on the ground and he pulled me by my hair into a room and hit me more than once until my face start bleeding. I did not understand what has happened. I heard other girls screaming. And then he raped me. -Maria, Albania
  • I held out for five days, crying, with no food. Eventually I lost my honor and my virginity for $25. -Name Unknown, Dominican Republic
  • That was when I realized I had been sold. Because she gave money to the Arab guy, and my passport was taken. – Lena, Moldova
  • I saw that I had traded one type of hell for another. I did what I had to do, because I was doing it for my daughter. -Sasha, Amsterdam
  • One can endure anything except hunger. If I were a man, maybe I would have committed murder to fill my stomach. But as a woman, I became a prostitute. -Manju, Nepal
  • I’m no star; I’m just a whore, that’s all. -Siri, Thailand
  • If you see us only as victims you have missed the point. -Cherry, Canada

Source: unitedmethodistwomen.org

The Los Alamos women held up the anti human trafficking banner this afternoon on US 285 to raise awareness to the crime. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com