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Alone in the City ?

Louise Allain, 20th October, 2013

All of these women are left exploited, demeaned, vulnerable to health risks, and often traumatised by the life they fall in to. Also the fear of criminalisation that prostitution leads to, naturally makes them reticent to talk about their employment.....

As we mark Anti-Slavery Day, 18th October 2013, it's worth remembering how many volunteers from charities across the world are reaching out to help those effected by slavery, particularly those trafficked into the sex industry.

Rahab is a London based charity reaching out to women effected by prostitution and victims of sex trafficking.

Rahab was set up in 2009 by the Catholic Sisters Adoratrices as an initiative by the Order for the welfare of women involved in prostitution. The Adoratrices were originally established in 1856 by St Maria Micaela, Viscountess of Jorbalan, in Madrid, Spain to provide shelter for women who had been sexually exploited.

Their founder Maria Micaela died in 1865, but inspired by her passion and commitment, courageous women all over the world have been dedicating themselves to carrying on the mission Maria envisaged, and there are Sisters engaged in carrying out humanitarian activities in 22 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. Rahab is a continued expression of the Order's founding ideals, and also shows how the Order are responding to modern day pressures and needs.

Rahab deal with women of all ages; although it is true that some women enter into prostitution voluntarily, most women are drawn into this life by their vulnerability and lack of choice, and therefore exploited into the sex trade through 'work' in residential flats, escort agencies, by word of mouth or through the internet or any other known means for procuring such services.

All of these women are left exploited, demeaned, vulnerable to health risks, and often traumatised by the life they fall in to. Also the fear of criminalisation that prostitution leads to, naturally makes them reticent to talk about their employment. Rahab reach out to women of all nationalities, all ages and seek to help them re-evaluate their life.

For those particularly who have been trafficked into the industry it naturally means they are driven to greater depths of secrecy and furtiveness about what they are involved in, meaning that it's unlikely they will turn to any outside help. The only way therefore to offer them an impartial ear and a pass to new life is to use the means that Rahab do.

At night, volunteers visit working flats in areas like Earls Court, in London, knocking on doors, and chatting to those they meet in a form that is mild, friendly and yet accessible to all - and in truth not without it's dangerous side. If a woman has been trafficked into the UK she will naturally be terrified of authorities, but she may open up to a Nun.

Without prejudice or blame, Rahab offers these women a sanctuary away from their meaningless existences; and with counselling and support these individuals are freed from their hideous exploitation and given a new chance at life, and sexual autonomy.

For information about their work visit Rahabuk.com