Speaking at a public forum of Social Policy Connections at Box Hill on 22 April, Mercy Sister Angela Reed talked of her experience meeting with trafficked women, and offered a framework by which to sort out the complex array of factors that predispose women to being trafficked. Especially significant are her findings that many of these women had been exposed to abuse in various forms from a very young age.
Angela recently completed her PhD on the social factors driving sex trafficking and the effects on Filipino women. She is now doing a one-year post-doctoral residency with ourcommunity.com, with a focus on changing the social factors driving women into oppressive and exploitative situations, and on developing advocacy on their behalf.
Sr Angela began teaching in inner city schools in Melbourne, and later obtained a Bachelor of Theology and a Masters in Social Work. She then coordinated Mercy Care for seven years, a safe house for women escaping family violence in Victoria. In 2008, she was awarded a Vincent Fairfax Fellowship in Ethics and Leadership through St James Ethics Centre. This required her and 13 other Australians to explore ethical issues across Australia and the Asia-Pacific.
She researched sex trafficking in the Philippines in 2011, and recently completed her PhD through the School of Global, Urban, & Social Studies at RMIT University. She hopes her research findings will be shared widely, and is now preparing resource materials for trafficked women.
A long-time member of ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans), Angela says, “For too long, sex trafficking has been attributed to poverty alone”. She believes sex trafficking is complicated, and while caused by demand for sex services, traffickers prey on those who have myriad vulnerabilities, which can include childhood abuse, social isolation, lack of education, and specific ‘local’ factors. Tragically for many women, sex trafficking is part of a lifelong continuum of violence, beginning when some are as young as 3 years old.