The Noble Cause: Salim Women`s Shelter
Human trafficking is a problem that reaches every corner of the globe, in even the quietest neighborhoods. U.N. estimates say at least 161 countries share this problem with 43% of the 2.5 million people trafficked worldwide being coerced to work in the sex industry. Salim Women's Shelter in Busan is doing their best to help.
BUSAN, South Korea -- Tucked away in a back alley of a lesser-known corner of Busan is the Salim Women’s Shelter, one of several facilities under the umbrella of the Center for Women's Rights Salim. It is a respite for women who have recently escaped from sex trafficking, and a safe haven for those with nowhere else to go.
Modern day slavery is an issue that affects millions of people around the world every day. Yet somehow, it is still largely ignored. Here in Korea, women are trafficked from the Philippines, Russia and China, and Korean women themselves sometimes become slaves within their own borders. Few people have heard about the fires in 2000 and 2002, which killed a total of 19 women who were locked in brothels and unable to escape.
In 2004 the Korean government passed strict anti-trafficking laws establishing penalties for traffickers. Yet, the problem still persists and organizations like Salim are essential to these unfortunate needs.
The staff members at Salim have dedicated their lives to the cause of ending human slavery. I have been volunteering at Salim for about three months now, teaching English to the counselors, legal advisors and directors so they can better communicate with foreign women who seek safety at the shelter. This is an extraordinary group of women; their hearts are huge and their perseverance—through a lack of government funding, seemingly endless paperwork and glaring social stigmas—is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
"The women have access to room and board at the shelter for up to 18 months and at a group home for up to three years."
The shelter provides legal support, medical services, and consultation and vocational training to victims of prostitution. All of these services are provided free of charge. The women have access to room and board at the shelter for up to 18 months and at a group home for up to three years. If the women want to study at a college or university, their qualification exam fees and first semester are covered. The goal of Salim is to empower women who were once victims of this dehumanizing, underground industry.
Aside from the work they do with the women at the shelter, Salim also works as public educators. They recognize that the stereotypes behind sex work have to change if Korea and the rest of the world are to move forward towards the eradication of human trafficking. The public is unfortunately still given biased information that keeps women in the sex trade. Victims are often unaware of their rights and are shunned by a global society that tends to think of prostitution as a choice.
By informing the public about the physical threats, debt bondage and emotional abuse that keep women enslaved around the world, an end to sex trafficking may finally be in sight.
What can you do to help? Due to the safety and anonymity of the workers and occupants of the shelter, we are unable to disclose its location or contact details. If you would like to become involved with volunteer work or make a donation please contact Erin (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Corrine (Corrine.email@example.com) for more information.
- Human Trafficking: The Facts.pdf (UN)
- Biking Seoul to Busan Against Human Trafficking (Haps)
- What Anti-Trafficking Advocates Can Learn From Sex Workers (Huff Post)
- A place of Refuge: Sae Gil Battered Women's Shelter (Haps)
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