Blogger plans to tackle sex trafficking head-on
A Manawatu woman will be going to Asia to raise awareness about sex-trafficking, as sexual exploitation affects millions of boys and girls worldwide.
Charlotte Cook, 20, is choosing an overseas experience that she hopes will help to minimise sex-trafficking by educating people about the horrific issue.
She will document her journey to Cambodia, Thailand and Laos through an online blog, Facebook and regular podcasts on Access Manawatu.
Cook, who blogs under the name Good Charlotte, has fears over investigating sextrafficking in foreign countries but said it was a necessary action to create awareness.
‘‘I am afraid but I don’t think you can achieve anything without going out of your comfort zone,’’ she said.
‘‘You need to take the risk, if it could help people in the world.’’
Cook will spend the first few weeks with an organisation, Destiny Rescue, in Cambodia at the end of May.
She will spend three months in Asia with sex-trafficking victims, councillors and programme organisers, at learning and rehabilitation centres.
Cook will also visit red-light districts but her main work will be with victims who are post-rescue – to keep herself out of highly dangerous situations.
Cook said her parents took a while to come around to the idea of their daughter researching in dangerous territory alone.
‘‘I’m sure at times mum has nearly booked a plane ticket to go with me, but it’s my journey,’’ Cook said.
She funded the trip herself and wants people who are ‘‘choosing to ignore’’ the situations to take action.
‘‘Knowledge is power, ignorance is not bliss, it’s cowardly,’’ she said.
Cook also wants to educate tourists who are simply unaware of the issue.
‘‘There are people that use the services because the girls appear to be willing,’’ Cook said.
‘‘A lot of people go travelling and don’t realise that these are illegal sex organisations.’’
Having grown-up in Manawatu, Cook felt lucky.
‘‘I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities, like winning Miss Teen Manawatu,’’ she said.
Cook is passionate about social change and wants to share her experience of Asia in the hope that it will cause a ripple effect for more people to help stop sex-trafficking.
Cook eventually wants to study and is interested in journalism.
Manawatu-bred blogger Charlotte Cook plans to raise awareness about sextrafficking when she travels to Asia.