By Celine Klosterman
MUSCATINE – Between 27 million and 41 million people are enslaved in labor and sex industries worldwide, and some of them are in Iowa, according to Father Brian McVey, pastor of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Davenport.
He’s spoken with sex trafficking victims through his ministry of presence at a Quad Cities-area truck stop. On Human Trafficking Awareness Day Jan. 11, he shared some of his experiences with about 30 people in Gannon Hall at St. Mathias Catholic Church in Muscatine.
One of the first slaves he met, “Karen,” told him she was lured to the United States from Asia with promises of a job as a maid or seamstress. She ended up being beaten and sold for sex. Fr. McVey invited her to leave the truck stop with him, but she couldn’t work up the courage to do so. “She was brainwashed,” he said.
Stockholm Syndrome — in which people come to sympathize with their captors — and psychological abuse often keep slaves from trying to escape, Fr. McVey said. Victims of sex trafficking may feel too ashamed to return home. Those from countries with corrupt police may not trust U.S. law enforcement to help, and fear Americans wouldn’t sympathize with a slave who’s an undocumented immigrant.
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