For­mer CT sex slave to ad­dress the UN

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS - TSHEGO LEPULE

A CAPE Town sur­vivor of hu­man traf­fick­ing is tak­ing her mes­sage to the world start­ing with an ad­dress to the UN to speak on her ex­pe­ri­ence.

Grizelda Groot­boom, who was sold into the sex trade at the age of 18, will speak for seven min­utes at a high-level meet­ing of the Gen­eral As­sem­bly on the ap­praisal of the UN’ Global Plan of Ac­tion to Com­bat the Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons.

The two-day meet­ing will sit from Septem­ber 27 to 28 to as­sess the achieve­ments, gaps and chal­lenges and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of le­gal in­stru­ments.

Groot­boom’s tell-all book, Exit, which was re­leased two years ago, has given the 36-year-old a na­tional plat­form to raise aware­ness around the plight of young girls who are traf­ficked.

Groot­boom said she was ex­cited about the op­por­tu­nity to speak to world lead­ers about the ex­pe­ri­ences of many chil­dren and women in Africa.

“It is over­whelm­ing but a great op­por­tu­nity to rep­re­sent the coun­try and sur­vivors of the slave trade,” she said. “I hope to make an im­pact with my speech, not just on hu­man traf­fick­ing but to high­light the strug­gles that women not only in South Africa but in Africa as a whole go through.

“I won’t just talk about the chal­lenges of the girl child but of the black chil­dren. Women in Africa as a whole still live in slav­ery to the sex trade and no­body is listening to the voices of all those peo­ple.

“I will also spend the next few days en­gaged in meet­ings where plans and leg­is­la­tion around traf­fick­ing will be dis­cussed. From there on I will be head­ing to Lon­don to form part of a panel that will dis­cuss the same is­sues.

“It is ex­cit­ing to know there is recog­ni­tion out there. Since the re­lease of the book I have been in­vited to speak about my ex­pe­ri­ences across the coun­try. To take my mes­sage to the world and give voice to the chal­lenges of women in Africa is huge.”

Groot­boom said the past two years of pub­lic speak­ing on the book have opened up a world of shared ex­pe­ri­ences which have both healed her wounds and helped give a voice to oth­ers.

“The ti­tle of the book came out from the fact that ev­ery brothel we were enslaved in we would be made to line up in front of the door with an exit sign on top and the client would come in, pick a girl and go to the back and do their busi­ness and the girl would come back again into the line and wait for the next client,” she said. “I wanted to tell what th­ese men do to us in broth­els.

“The mem­ory is still fresh. Peo­ple think it is over now that it is on pa­per but you get trig­gered when wher­ever we work around the coun­try we still hear from girls who get res­cued.

“You hear your same de­scrip­tions and that is prob­a­bly the hard­est part of my job.”

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