By Kelly North
SC Photography Editor & Asst. News Editor
Rev. Ruth Puleo spoke at East Stroudsburg University on April 12, and described the work she has done to provide safety and security to the individuals affected by human trafficking. Puleo, a pastor serving at Christian Life, has made it her goal to ease the effect of human trafficking.
Human trafficking is the act if illegally trading human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor, or other modern forms of slavery. Every year, thousands of men, women, and children fall into the hands of traffickers through use of force, coercion, abduction, deception, or by giving payments to a person in control of the victim.
According to Puleo, human trafficking is a modern day form of slavery, and every country is affected. Undocumented migrants, runaways, and the poor are all targeted by traffickers who view the populations as being easy to recruit and control. Victims of human trafficking are taken to heavily secure commercial establishments in isolated locations. Victims are kept under surveillance at all times. In 2007, Puleo, who called human trafficking a crime against humanity, traveled to Delhi, India and saw devastation, poverty, and injustice and decided to do something to help.
Puleo raised money to build the Redemption Home in Delhi. The Redemption Home is a secure place where girls involved with human trafficking can live and be educated safely. Medical treatment and counseling can also be provided to 30-40 girls saved from human trafficking.
A story told by Puleo during her visit to East Stroudsburg University involved a young girl named Konica, who Ruth met in Delhi. Konica had several medical issues and was sold into slavery. In return, Ruth and others from her organization found Konica and bought her back. They are currently paying a family to take care of Konica until the home is built.
Another story told by Ruth was the story of Shavani, a nine-year-old girl in Delhi who worked for the mafia selling jewelry on the street. It was interesting because Ruth was actually wearing two pieces of jewelry that Shavani sold her. Eventually, though, the mafia informed Shavani that she would be relocated, almost guaranteeing an entrance into human trafficking. When Ruth found out, she paid for Shavani and her mother’s release. Shavani will also live and be education in the Redemption Home.
Puleo also pointed out human trafficking in the Poconos. She stated that last year, three massage parlors were shut down for sex trafficking. She informed the crowd that these businesses advertise through Craigslist, porn magazines, the yellow pages, and other low key resources.
Puleo fights against this violent business where owners of the girls play for keeps by drugging and abusing girls to ensure that they won’t run away. The owners dehumanize the girls, and Ruth helps bring them back to security.
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