UN summons human trafficking survivor Grizelda Grootboom
South Africa’s Grizelda Grootboom‚ a human trafficking survivor‚ has been invited to address the UN General Assembly.
Grootboom’s story caught national headlines when it was included in a TV exposé on human trafficking‚ and in 2016 she published a memoir‚ Exit!
She will speak at a two-day meeting of the general assembly being held “to appraise progress achieved in the implementation of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons”.
“As a survivor leader it would be an honour to have you deliver a 5-7 minute speech alongside the UN president of the general assembly [Miroslav Lajcák of Slovakia]‚ the UN secretary-general [António Guterres] and other esteemed leaders in our shared effort to end trafficking in humans‚” says an email to Grootboom from Lajcák’s office.
Grootboom was trafficked when she was 18 when she was betrayed by a friend who tricked her into moving to Johannesburg.
She was locked up‚ drugged‚ beaten and repeatedly raped. In one instance‚ she was assaulted so badly that she woke up in hospital a month later. She was forced to work as a sex slave for about 10 years.
Speaking to TimesLIVE‚ Grootboom said she was grateful for the invitation. “It’s overwhelming because this is going to be [to craft a plan] for human trafficking‚” she said.
Although her address was important to her‚ contributing to a global plan to combat trafficking was even more vital. Grootboom said the plan needed to be well structured and detailed on how it will be implemented.
“[We] need to make sure the plan must have strict feedback and accountability. We need to come back in a year and check where did it work? Which countries did it not work in?” she said.
Grootboom said it was crucial to involve human trafficking survivors because they had first-hand knowledge of the problem‚ instead of just an NGO looking for a quick buck.
“Awareness is good‚ but public education could be [better] and skilling survivors ... to be there on the frontlines ... is the most important thing.
“We have Women’s Day‚ but the same women are talking. They tell the women of today‚ ‘We fought for you.’ But they are not asking the women of today: ‘What would you like us to do and how can you help us?’.”