International Women's Shelters Conference.
Wed, September 10, 2008
There are 800 delegates -- mostly women but a few good men -- at this week's conference of shelter workers and they all have incredible stories.
Ece Tuncay, who gave a presentation yesterday, is a clinical psychologist with a shelter in Ankara, Turkey, for female victims of human trafficking. There is another in Istanbul and they are desperately needed because Turkey is a destination country for trafficked women from countries like Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Moldova.
The women are tricked into thinking they'll work as cooks or cleaners and then forced into prostitution, said Tuncay.
"They are not generally able to escape because a pimp always accompanies them."
But there are hotlines the women can call and, in a strange twist of fate, Turkish johns sometimes feel sorry for them and call the police to rescue them, added Tuncay.
Her group gets the trafficked women safe housing and counselling. Then, with the help of the International Organization for Migration, the women travel safely home.
Every woman saved is a success story. As Reimer, the prime organizer behind this incredible gathering, commented to the delegates Monday night, shelter workers toil in the middle of a "hurricane of suffering" to keep women alive.
No other profession, she added, sees such a constant reminder of men's inhumanity to women.
I give the last word to Smith who quipped to the hundreds of shelter workers: "I look forward to the day when we all have something else to do in our lives."
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