"I kidnap girls from their traffickers. Their pimps never know it until the girls are in the car with me, speeding toward the safe house." Iana Matei did not always do such things. In fact, Matei, a once battered, imprisoned woman, had spent 10 years carefully constructing a better life halfway around the world. This life was interrupted by a single phone call that would eventually lead to the rescue of over 400 victims of forced prostitution. Iana Matei has achieved notoriety in the international community for her fight against human trafficking in eastern Europe - including the Reader's Digest European of the Year award in 2010. However, her solutions are local: teaching rescued children vocational skills and developing projects with sustainable jobs. Thus depriving traffickers of one of their most valuable tools: the false promise of work abroad. Author Pamela Ravan-Pyne shares a fictionalized biographical account of Iana Matei's initiation into the world of human trafficking. The three girls profiled in I Kidnap Girls - Tara, Louisa and Nicoletta - are composites of real-life experiences from the rescued victims. A portion of the sale of each book helps to fund the work of Iana Matei's non-profit, Reaching Out Romania.
This book was pretty intense, and at times quite convicting. Most people are curious about how things like sex slavery can happen in our world today, but most people don't want to get in harm's way to help change the situations for these girls. Believe it or not, I actually know a few women who are living in other countries (like Thailand) and helping rescue girls forced into prostitution. It has to be incredibly hard to see the pain they have gone through. And then to find out many times their families sold them to these traffickers... ugh.
The writing style was okay. At times I got lost in the book because I felt connected to the characters and drawn into the story. At other times, I got a bit stuck because of some stilted inner dialog and lost my connection. But overall, the story was quite compelling. I wouldn't recommend reading this book at night, though, or the reader might have some frightening dreams. I can't imagine being 12 or 13 and being raped 27 times the first night. It's unfathomable how evil some humans can be to innocent children. Then again, I've worked with abused and neglected children as a social worker for over 20 years, so there isn't much I haven't seen. This book just happens to show the worst of the worst.
People are understandably uncomfortable with prostitution. Men in the offending countries often think these girls actually want to be prostituting themselves. Maybe that's how people deal with the knowledge that this type of crime is happening around the world. Surely it has to be desired behavior, right? Calling them whores just dehumanizes them. So when these poor girls seek help, they may be victimized again, or worse, sold back to the pimps who will beat them or possibly even kill them.
Human trafficking is probably the sickest problem in this world today. I found it interesting that there were some faith threads in this book, and at the same time it was littered with some harsh and degrading terms. I suppose that did lend to the book's authenticity, but it still made me wince a few times. Anyway, I am glad I took the time to read this book. It has definitely opened my eyes even more to the plight of many children around the world.
I Kidnap Girls was published by BookTrope Editions and released in February 2013.