Analysis of Human Trafficking

When looking at the list of books to read, I was contemplating which one looked the most interesting. While gazing over Trafficked by Sophie Hayes, I was immediately enticed by the title. After browsing the book’s summary, the reviews online and learning that this was based on a true story about the authors endeavors, I knew this would be the choice for me. I finished this book in one day, as I could not put it down. This novel was filled with sad, angry, manipulative, heart wrenching stories which coincides with many concepts that have been discussed throughout this communication course. Through the duration of her book, Sophie experiences what it is like to be a part of a muted group, to be categorized as an easy target for a human trafficking victim and how her nonverbal codes handicapped her negatively. Sophie’s journey starts in England where she was born and raised and then shifts to Italy when she travels to meet her boyfriend Kas; Italy is where most of the story takes place. I am of Italian descent and since I have traveled to Italy many times to visit family, I have a personal experience with what the history and culture is like there. Italy has always been a very religious culture (about 400-600 B.C.), and has so much depth and history that it dates back to before Jesus Christ was born. Italy became a unified country in 1873 but prior to that, Italy was a country of city states that were under the rule of France, Spain, a small of the Taupe States (referring to the Vatican) and the Hungarian and Austrian Empire. Now since this novel is based on human trafficking/prostitution, some interesting facts about prostitution was it was introduced before Italy was even a unified country. According to the article Did you know this about Prostitution? by Procon.Org, the organization states prostitution dates back to at least 2,400 B.C. For Italy, before it became a unified country, brothels, and prostitution was highly looked upon in the middle ages. While there are some places around the world where prostitution is still legal, Italy did not legally prohibit brothels until 1958. When I used to visit my Great Aunt Franceschina in Italy, she used to tell us that she was going to make Puttanesca and that was always followed by a true story of how that pasta received its name. Apparently, prostitutes in Italy (during WWII era) didn’t always make the most substantial funding to make a living off of, so after a rather long night of working in the streets they would come home and to save their money, they would throw whatever they had in their pantry to make a sauce for a home cooked meal. This became a popular dish and later was named Puttanesca or better yet knows as pasta of the whores. While prostitution has been around since the B.C. era, Human trafficking was not a concept, (at least for people of white skin) until roughly the early 1900’s. It was not until the mid-nineties when the United Nations made the decision to see Human Trafficking as a violent act. Due to the decision made from the United Nations, actions were further taken to protect their citizens by ensuring law enforcement became involved to help stop this criminal act. Throughout this novel, macro-cultural, micro-cultural and muted groups were centered around human trafficking. For this specific situation, these groups can be identified differently depending on how an individual personally views each group. For example, one scenario that was portrayed as the macro-culture would be Kas (the man who makes a living off of selling other women), the micro-culture Sophie (known as the prostitute), and the muted group could be the men who actually choose to pay and sleep with the prostitutes. But personally, I believe in this scenario that the macro-cultural group would be Kas, or better known as Sophie’s boyfriend. Kas would be considered as the macro-cultural group because he was the one in charge of creating the idea to use Sophie for Human Trafficking to make a living. He used positional power to lure Sophie in over a course of four years to only turn on her when she came to visit him in Italy. Little did Sophie know that Kas was not only going to sell her for her body, but also manipulate her and emotionally and physically abuse her. Next, the micro-culture would be the men who pay to sleep with the prostitutes. These men fall under this identifiable group because they share the same set of values and behaviors. Finally, Sophie would be a representation of the muted group for the women who are being sexually trafficked. Muted groups are usually concerned with power, and since Sophie struggled with the power that the macro-group (Kas) had over her and with power that the micro-groups had in purchasing her; that is why I personally believe she would be placed in this group. Another reason I made this decision is because Sophie was a sublet of the micro-culture. She was there specifically to sell her body to the micro-culture so the macro-culture could make a profit. In this unique dynamic, the macro-culture, the micro-culture and the muted groups just so happen to shadow the idea of the seller, the buyer and the performer. Categorizing others seemed to be an ongoing theme that was displayed many times in this novel. When Sophie was old enough to find her own place, and move into a flat in London, she became a very strong yet lonely individual. She made it very hard for men to approach her. She built up walls because of how her father treated her and because of that emotional trauma, she seemed to shut men out. For example, Erion was a man she met in a bar and he and her were meant to be together. He was sweet kind, and would never hurt a fly. But since Sophie had built up so many walls, she pushed him away and started to unveil some rude and angry behavior to Erion that her father bestowed upon her. Since Erion was on a visa, he ended up being deported back to Albania. This eventually led to the two breaking up as Sophie was not ready to settle down. When she met Kas, they started off as just friends. Over a course of four years, he learned everything about Sophie and I think this is when he began categorizing her as an easy target for a human trafficking victim. Sophie discussed with Kas her childhood, what she went through with her father and all her feelings of emotions for other men. I think because she became so vulnerable to Kas, he saw her as a naive young woman, that seemed to have all of the qualities that would be easy to lure her in and for him to convince her that he really does care for her; since her father never did. He was able to fill the void that her father never could, but in reality, Kas was just like her father but even worse. Racism and Discrimination was also mentioned in this book several times. Racism and discrimination mostly came from Kas. For example, in Chapter 6 of the novel Trafficked by Sophie Hayes, Kas stated you only go with Italian men, no blacks, no Moroccans, Moldovans, Albanians, Romanians. (Page 65-66) This was in reference to who Sophie could sleep with when she was working. I am not sure as to why Kas was racist or used discrimination towards those different ethnic men, especially since he was Albanian himself, but he just knew that he did not want Sophie to sleep with them. Sophie extremely struggled to adapt to her new environment and living with Kas in Italy. Since Kas was so manipulative, physically abusive and bi-polar, Sophie had to learn how to react to his anger as she was so caught off guard from his instant change in behavior. Kas played the nice guy to her for over four years. When Kas finally turned on her and explained to her that if she loved him she would have to sell herself for sex, as she had no other choice than to do what he told her, is when his anger became infinite. She quickly realized that no matter what she did, shewas never going to be good enough for him. Since Sophie had dealt with this with her father as a child, she felt as if she was re-living her worst nightmare over again. For Sophie to acclimate to her situation that she could not escape from, she tries her best to use verbal codes to keep him happy, but due to Sophie’s frightened feelings, she continuously and unconsciously uses nonverbal codes that contradict the verbal message she is trying to display. For example, a few months into Sophie being used as a prostitute, Kas asked her to make him a pasta dinner. Unfortunately, she did not do it to his standards and when Kas questioned her on why she did not do it correctly, she explained that she didn’t mean to make that mistake and that she was trying her best. But since Sophie had displayed a nonverbal cue that she was scared, because she knew that she was going to be physically beaten due to her mishap, Kas questioned her as to why he’s afraid of him and then threatens her by discussing that he’s going to give her something to be afraid of; that threat always became an act of violence. When Sophie finally returned home, she was suffering from PTSD. According to the article Effects of Abuse by Kathryn Patricelli, Patricelli states post trauma conditions such as PTSD occur in the aftermath of a significant trauma (where trauma is defined as exposure to some event that involves the threat or reality of death (either one’s own or another’s.)) Sophie experienced a PTSD trigger when she reunited with Erion in London and flinched when he went to touch her on the shoulder. PTSD takes a long recovery time especially for something as traumatic like human trafficking along with physical and verbal abuse. An important quote that I live by is always try to understand others. I have always been a very empathetic person, but I feel as if reading Trafficked took my empathy to another level. human trafficking is an awful act to do to another human being, but it was not until I read this book did I know how bad some of the circumstances some of these ladies have to go through and live with. I learned a new side of modern day Italy. I always knew and heard the stories from my family in Italy of human trafficking and how it has progressed over the years there, but I never knew how bad it actually was. To hear Sophie’s full version and to learn exactly what she went through saddened and angered me. Although Kas was not born and raised in Italy, it still hurt to see that men originally from Italy, a country that I derive from, would support the use of prostitution; but I also have to remember to be rational and understand that maybe those men didn’t know that Sophie was being human trafficked, and maybe just thought that she was selling herself for money (regardless it is still a shameful act). I believe that I was able to identify with Sophie emotionally and cognitively as she really made me feel like was right there with her. I cried so many times throughout this book, which I never do, out of anger and sadness. I was angry that she didn’t try to escape but knew exactly why she didn’t and I felt so much sadness for her since she was repeatedly emotionally and physically abused; I have seen what that can do to women mentally and it’s a long healing process. Kas threatened her many times that if she left or didn’t do as she was told, he would go after her family. She let me step into her shoes to feel exactly what she was going through and while I questioned her thought process many times on why she didn’t try to get out of her situation, I constantly reminded myself that I probably would have done the same thing; most importantly to protect my family. While I would like to think that I was able to truly step into Sophie’s shoes and understand every decision that she made, I know this is far from the truth because I will never know exactly how it feels to be human trafficked and I hope I never have too. But I do believe that I empathize completely with her by feeling for another person who is suffering. The things Sophie went through were extremely traumatic and she was able to further my understanding of how bad today’s human trafficking conditions are.

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