Another true story of domestic trafficking that took place within Fiji's capital city.
*Amelia was mentally impaired, stigmatized, and small for her age at 15 years old. She came from a squatter’s settlement, living with both of her parents who provided minimum supervision for her. Amelia began following her peers, who were spending long hours away from their own homes. One day a group of five men trapped Amelia and they locked her up in a room in another squatter’s settlement for one month. She was never allowed to leave this room – she used the floor as her toilet, slept on that same floor, and serviced the men that continuously came to her room throughout the entire month. Finally, two of her peers managed to find her and help her escape. The trauma from this ordeal only strengthened her mental impairment as well as public stigmatization. Amelia has become a missing person from home.
In Fiji, there needs to be more awareness surrounding mental health. It needs to be understood that the human brain is a part of our body that can become sick, just like our heart, our stomach, or our arm. Currently, there are severe negative stigmas attached to counseling, the local mental health hospital, mental impairment, and so on. Those negative stigmas can create young girls and women who struggle with mental health issues to become targets of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.
How can you educate yourself and others regarding mental health issues? Do you currently know someone who struggles?
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Homes of Hope is currently working alongside the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with funding from the European Union to establish and coordinate a targeted NGO/CSO (non-governmental organization/civil society organization) task force for sharing best practice knowledge and skills, discussing the management of trafficking cases, developing a common monitoring framework for service delivery in Fiji, and coordinating advocacy and awareness campaigns in Fiji.