If you're on Blue Dragon's mailing list, you'll have received a message this morning with some very good news.
In short, we've been involved in helping 2 teenage girls who were trafficked from Vietnam to China and sold to brothels. Our support has enabled them to return to their homes and start getting on with their lives... and we've also been able to bring most of the trafficking ring to justice. The one remaining person involved appears to have fled the country, so is now on an Interpol watchlist.
We're really pleased to have been able to achieve all this, and it's tremendously satisfying to see the girls starting to resume a normal life.
A fascinating 'sideline' to this story is the role of the internet in human trafficking.
Most cases we have dealt with involving the trafficking of girls to China has involved the internet in some way or another. Typically, the traffickers are meeting girls online and becoming their 'friends' via chat rooms. They then arrange to meet in person, show some generosity, and eventually take them on a holiday or shopping trip near the Chinese border. The final step is to say "Let's go shopping over the border," or "I have a really good friend who lives just on the other side of the border," and the girl is kidnapped.
In this most recent case, though, the internet also played a role in the escape of the 2 girls. After they had broken out of the brothel, they found themselves in a Chinese city over 1000km from Vietnam. Just as a chat room had been the start of their troubles, the same chat room was their best chance to reconnect with their families back home and call for help.
Each trafficking case that we get involved with teaches us new lessons - and no matter what we see or hear, each case reminds us that we have so much more to learn.
We only hope that each new case we work with can prepare us better to help the girls who are being targeted by traffickers, and find new ways to counter the trafficking before it even takes place.