Heart for People On Street: ”We want them to see that someone cares about them”

Realstars wishes to show some initiatives to stop trafficking. We can make a difference together – we have all our own part to play in protecting people at risk and to stand up for human rights. We met Andrea Abrahansson, team leader for Heart for People On Street who tells us about some incredibly important work done at Rosenlundsgatan in Gothenburg.

How do you work to support the girls?

Our team ‘Heart for People On Street’ walks out along Rosenlundsgatan one night a week to meet the girls there who’ve been forced to work as prostitutes. In the street we meet girls from Romania, Nigeria, Albania, Poland and Sweden. Our base is a church called Connect Church in Gothenburg at Redbergsplatsen. Heart for People is a social endeavor that helps the needy of Gothenburg in various ways. We have done volunteer work in the street for a year and a half and we’ve established a positive connection with the girls who walk there.

Elise Lindqvist who works at Malmskillnadsgatan in Stockholm is our mentor and role model. We are using her model in our work and we’re very happy to collaborate with Elise. At Rosenlund we speak to the girls and we want them to realize that they are precious. We want to show them our concern and that someone cares about them. We look them in the eye and show them compassion. We laugh a lot and talk about anything and everything. We bring coffee, hot chocolate, candy and warm clothes when it’s cold. We also bring toiletries such as shampoo, balms and sanitary pads. We have great coffee given to us from Espresso House in Vasa, sponsors of our work.

How much do you think this means to them?

By coming to the street every week, we want the girls to know we aren’t giving up on them. We want to be there for them through thick and thin – in heavy rain, snow and freezing temperatures. If they are forced to stand outside for 10 hours with a temperature of -10 degrees C, we can do it for a few hours too. We want to show them love through our actions. We want them to love and believe in themselves and for them to have hope for the future. We can’t physically take them off the street but we can sow seeds of hope for freedom. We believe that is what is needed for them to have the strength to fight and have the courage to leave the street, if there is a chance.

How do we get men to stop buying sex?

On the streets, we get the chance to talk to many men as well. Some of them are regular guys who walk from bar to bar, sometimes stopping spontaneously to ask what we are doing and what Heart for People is. Others are johns, or guys who work for pimps, etc. We have a good rapport with both trafficking and the police in Gothenburg and they often come up to us to check the situation.

We consider all conversations at Rosenlund to be wonderful opportunities to shatter the negative view people often have on girls who work as prostitutes. We want people to realize it’s not always the girls themselves who chose to walk the street, that the girls are not the problem.

When it comes to prostitution and trafficking, the big issue is the demand. Pornography creates an objectification of the sexualized female, dehumanization, while it breeds an unnatural sexual appetite and a demand on the international sex trade market. We hope that people will become more aware of what pornography really is and in turn stop consuming pornography or going to prostitutes. We are very grateful for the Swedish legislation and that there’s a good publication: ”The Swedish Model – targeting the sex buyer”.

If men would change their attitude towards prostitutes, see them as someone you can help instead of exploit, Gothenburg would look very different. If you respect another person, you don’t buy her; you don’t have sex against her will or rape her. We hope to open men’s eyes so they can see more clearly. We have noticed how in the conversations we have with men who come to Rosenlund, that their view of the girls changes. We are so very grateful for every conversation had in the street.

We are very happy to have been contacted by Realstars. We can make a difference together.

Read more about the work here.

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