Arjan Erkel gave i-Marbella an exclusive interview about his fight against child prostitution, Part 211-09-2017
Content: This document consists of a set of 5 questions from the editor of i-Marbella answered by Arjan Erkel, one of the founders of the international Dutch based NGO Free a Girl, a leader on the fight against child prostitution.
1. Did your personal experience make you help other people? Specifically, girls in this situation.
Yes, I believe that my personal experience did make me want to further help other people. Especially children who have been forced into prostitution, who are also locked up and guarded by violent criminals who want something in exchange for their lives, just as they did for me. Still, it is hard to compare my situation with theirs. It is not fair to compare both situations. These girls are still children which should be going to school and not being daily abused. But yes, I believe what has happened to me has made me more motivated and understanding of what these innocent children have to go through.
2. Can you share with us a happy moment with one of the girls after being rescued? An unforgettable moment.
Helping rescue victims of child sex trafficking and spending time with them is always unforgettable. Seeing the smiles and signs of hope in these girls eyes are unique, precious moments that I hold close to me, it is hard to pick one single moment, they were all memorable and special.
3. Are you planning to expand the help of your foundation to other countries?
In a perfect world Free a Girl wouldn’t have to expand to other countries. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t even exist. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and our fight against child prostitution is now more needed than ever. The problems in South East Asia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico are very serious. We are always looking for opportunities to safe more girls.
4. Why did you decide that the age of 23 should be a limit for your help?
We would like to help victims of all ages that have been victims of forced prostitution. However, we decided to focus our resources on the more vulnerable group of young females which are more prone to be further trafficked either by force or perceived lack of option. We hope to be able to teach this young women life skills which they can use to find a job where selling their bodies will never happen again. As the money is limited, we choose to spend our resources targeting groups and areas where we are likely to save the most girls. We are hopeful that with further awareness and media presence, we will receive more funds and be able to help more girls gain their hope and freedom.
5. Have you experienced any threats after saving girls from prostitution?
Personally, I have not experienced any threats whist helping in the rescue of minors from forced prostitution. However, some of the rescue workers from Free a Girl’s local partner in India which work on raid operations face a more delicate line of work while entering the brothels and at times interacting with the pimps and madams. Moreover, there have been no reports of incidents and all of Free a Girl’s local partner workers are well trained and prepared for the risky, yet fulfilling work they are commuted to.
Free a Girl is having a charity night on November 1, 2017, at Castillo de Monda.
About Arjan Erkel
Mr. Erkel, a former medical aid worker of renowned nonprofit organization Doctors Without Borders, was kidnapped by rebels in Makhachkala, on August of 2012. After spending 607 days in horrible conditions both physically and mentally. Mr. Erkel, together with other activists such as Evelien Hölsken and Yolanthe Snedijer Cabau, created the relief organization to help rescue and rehabilitate minors who have been victims of one of modern history’s worst crimes – trafficking girls into forced prostitution. According to Mr. Erkel “My own case was receiving a high level of media attention globally. The suffering of these girls deserves the same attention. At a very young age, they end up in brothels and are exploited and raped daily.” Together with the help and assistance of Mr. Erkel’s motivation, education, interests, experience, and passion, Free a Girl has been able to rescue over 4 thousand girls from brothels in Asia and continues to fight for a world where no child is forced into prostitution.
About Free a Girl
Free a Girl is committed to freeing young girls from forced prostitution. In addition, the Foundation invests in care, trauma treatment, medical care, education and vocational education and reintegration of victims. Over the last 8 years, we have contributed to the liberation of more than 3,800 girls from brothels in Asia.
We also work with the police and justice to see human traffickers being captured and condemned.
To achieve this, Free a Girl offers financial support to local organizations where our added value is greatest. We support 15 partner organizations in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Brazil and the Netherlands.
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