Former sex slave to address the UN

Grizelda Grootboom.

Grizelda Grootboom.

Published Sep 10, 2017


A Cape Town survivor of human trafficking is taking her message to the world starting with an address to the UN to speak on her experience.

Grizelda Grootboom, who was sold into the sex trade at the age of 18, will speak for seven minutes at a high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the appraisal of the UN’ Global Plan of Action to Combat the Trafficking in Persons.

The two-day meeting will sit from September 27 to 28 to assess the achievements, gaps and challenges and the implementation of legal instruments.

Grootboom’s tell-all book, Exit, which was released two years ago, has given the 36-year-old a national platform to raise awareness around the plight of young girls who are trafficked.

Grootboom said she was excited about the opportunity to speak to world leaders about the experiences of many children and women in Africa.

“It is overwhelming but a great opportunity to represent the country and survivors of the slave trade,” she said. “I hope to make an impact with my speech, not just on human trafficking but to highlight the struggles that women not only in South Africa but in Africa as a whole go through.

“I won’t just talk about the challenges of the girl child but of the black children. Women in Africa as a whole still live in slavery to the sex trade and nobody is listening to the voices of all those people.

“I will also spend the next few days engaged in meetings where plans and legislation around trafficking will be discussed. From there on I will be heading to London to form part of a panel that will discuss the same issues.

“It is exciting to know there is recognition out there. Since the release of the book I have been invited to speak about my experiences across the country. To take my message to the world and give voice to the challenges of women in Africa is huge.”

Grootboom said the past two years of public speaking on the book have opened up a world of shared experiences which have both healed her wounds and helped give a voice to others.

“The title of the book came out from the fact that every brothel we were enslaved in we would be made to line up in front of the door with an exit sign on top and the client would come in, pick a girl and go to the back and do their business and the girl would come back again into the line and wait for the next client,” she said. “I wanted to tell what these men do to us in brothels.

“The memory is still fresh. People think it is over now that it is on paper but you get triggered when wherever we work around the country we still hear from girls who get rescued.

"You hear your same descriptions and that is probably the hardest part of my job.”

Sunday Independent

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