Human Trafficking: Closer to Home Than We Think

Editors’ note: We want to think that crime and criminal activity happen somewhere else, far away from our home and community. But this is often not the case, as Beirut-based writer Arzé Khodr experienced in researching for her article “Maiden, arise” on human trafficking in the Middle East and the church’s effort to rescue women who have been trafficked. Listen to her audio report below. Then, read her article in the September 2023 issue of ONE. A full transcript of the audio report follows.

The first interview I had for this article was in Nabaa, a neighborhood close to Beirut, 1.6 miles from where I live, and it took me about six minutes to get there.

Of course, I know this neighborhood. I have been there before, and I know about the extreme poverty and density of the area. However, to go there again and to see and visit families that barely have enough money to eat had quite an effect on me.

Later, when a human trafficking survivor told me that she was first brought to Nabaa, and when a social worker told us about the many cases she deals with there, I couldn’t but think, “This neighborhood is practically around the corner from my home.”

In my small country, we live side by side together: the victims of trafficking, of social and economic injustice, and us the more fortunate, the ones who happen to be luckier for different reasons.

Of course, in this cruel and unjust reality, the task is huge. But none of the sisters or social workers I met seemed to be discouraged by the amount of help needed. On the contrary, I was amazed by their faith strength and above all, by their smiles in the middle of a tragic reality. Making life better, even for one person, gives meaning to everything they do. Any help they are able to offer is a victory over the harshness of the world.

Arzé Khodr is a freelance writer and playwright, based in Beirut.

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