Sister Vanaja Jasphine, a 39-year-old Indian nun who rescues Cameroonian women from slavery, is asking for more support for victims as they recover from their horrific ordeals of being drugged, raped, and abused in the Middle East.
The Sister has identified more than 200 victims who have been taken from central Africa and enslaved in the Middle East.
Last year Sister Jasphine year brought home 14 trafficking victims, whom she refers to as Cameroon’s “children”.
“A rising number of African women are heading to the Middle East for domestic work, driven abroad by the lack of jobs at home, rights activists say. Yet many have their passports confiscated and end up trapped in modern-day slavery. “One woman was thrown from the balcony of a two-storey building by her employer after she accidentally burnt her boss’s shirt whilst ironing,” Jasphine said of a victim in Kuwait. Others are drugged and turned into sex slaves – being raped multiple times a day and even forced to have sex with animals.
“They come home with a lot of trauma,” Jasphine, coordinator of the Justice and Peace Commission of Kumbo, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a seminary in the capital Yaounde.”
The nun who moved to Cameroon a decade ago, added, “Sometimes, a (woman forced to be a) sex worker can be exploited 15 times a day – physically, mentally, she’s drained … she’s gone.” who moved to northwest Cameroon almost a decade ago to work with the country’s poorest. In the end, she doesn’t have anything. She comes back in the same dress she left in.”
“Jasphine was honored in June as one of eight global heroes in the fight against trafficking at the launch of the United States’ annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, which grades countries on their efforts to stamp out modern-day slavery.”
Jasphine, however, has no time for accolades. Her life is too consumed with finding sources of funding and counseling for victims in need of help in surviving their ordeal abroad.