In Concert with Bulgaria
Post written by Faith Lyons
I had never contemplated the distant world. Certainly, I had vacationed in other countries and considered myself interested in international issues, but problems abroad felt like a detached dream.
If it did not affect my daily life directly, then it was merely a passing story that was blown away by the next horrific tale.
My research for the Center for Global Justice has changed the egocentric view I possessed. Human Trafficking is taking place all over the world and if we do not band together to take on the problem, then real people worldwide will continue to suffer at the hands of others.
International Justice Mission Romania (IJM)
When I began my research for the Center for Global Justice, I was assigned to IJM Romania. IJM’s mission is to protect people in poverty from violence by rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, restoring survivors to safety and strength, and helping local law enforcement build a safe future that lasts.
By joining this project, we were given the task of researching the prosecutor and police offices in Bulgaria, and the role of NGOs that partner with the government in prosecuting trafficking cases. This research would hopefully shed light on which areas needed improvement. The very first statistics I dug up on the State Department’s website sent shivers down my spine.
Out of the 61 convicted traffickers in 2019, only 19 received prison sentences that were not suspended. Trafficking affects a victim’s life forever, yet most assailants do not even spend a day in prison.
The prosecution process was not much better. Only victims who are willing to participate in the investigation will be granted a reflection and recovery period that allows them access to therapy and legal counsel. Even still, there are only a few shelters to house these many victims and the state funding has decreased in recent years. These victims have suffered more than we can even imagine, and they deserve adequate care after they are rescued.
Helen Keller had a quote that I felt was pertinent to this post. She once said, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”
Isn’t this indicative of the situation in Bulgaria? They cannot do it alone. No one can institute change alone. With the help of the outside world, and strong individuals that desire to see a change, Bulgaria can be brought into Tier One standing. Or better yet, Bulgaria can discard its title as one of the primary source countries for human trafficking and become a country known for its strict penalties for offenders. My hope is that our research and IJM’s efforts can help Bulgaria, and many other countries, take a step in the direction of change. Because we are truly so much stronger together.
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Student Staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.