How much are we worth?

I have some time off this week before I go back to school in Scotland, so I try to spend a lot of time with my family. I have 6 younger siblings. I miss them constantly when I am away and now when I am about to leave I think about how much I value and love them.

During my sabbatical year I traveled to South-east Asia (like every Swede) but I was also in Bangladesh working as a volunteer. I was in the capital, Dhaka, where you can’t take but a few steps before plenty of beggars and curious children and adults show up. It soon became clear to me that almost only children, handicapped people or women with new-born children were the beggars. I asked questions about the beggars to friends we stayed with, they told me there are large criminal networks who gain money from beggars. These are men who send the women and children out to beg and if they return without a certain sum of money they get no food. You could call them pimps because that’s just what they are.

Beggars in Bangladesh are in a way similar to trafficking victims in Sweden. The girls brought to Sweden to work as prostitutes never see the money they make for their pimps. There is no bright side of the environment they live in.
I have never seen trafficking but I have seen thousands of women and children being oppressed and being forced to go out to beg.

I have seen how these children sometimes glow with happiness when they are given an orange each. It breaks my heart every time and living in Bangladesh made me realize how much evil there is in the world. What person can coerce children to go out in the street or making them handicapped so as to make more money? Exactly the same can be said about trafficking, WHO can coerce girls and women into becoming prostitutes?

I love my siblings more than anything else. It breaks my heart when I think about all these vulnerable people who have been and still is loved by their family but have lost their freedom to pimps.

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Matilda Öhlin Knutsson for RealStars

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