Earlier this year, I was involved in an Anti Human Trafficking campaign in Malaysia, Organised by NGO Change Your World, the aim of the campaign, was to raise awareness and educate people about Human Trafficking and empower the public to be able to act.
The first part of the program was ‘Trapped’ which travelled to 16 locations in Selangor. Mostly Universities and Shopping Malls. We did live interactive performances, art exhibits and flashmobs. When I was asked if I was interested in supporting the campaign I had no idea I would end up being locked in a bus as a domestic slave, beaten by an abuser. Thankfully I was also saved by members of the public who completed the task of handing in their question cards before the time was up. My other job was to give bruises to the other performers. Actually, I have become the go to girl for injury type make-up effects.
After one performance, a university student approached me in tears and said she was so moved by the scene as it was so realistic. Turns out I can act as well, apparently. Being in Malaysia the obvious thing to do in that situation was to put my arm around her and take a selfie.
This short video shows the campaign highlights. See if you can spot me.
Since then, I have begun teaching dance to a group of women who are victims of trafficking. They are being held in a shelter while they go through the legal process. They have to prove that they were in fact, victims of trafficking and as far as I understand, after they have completed this process, they will be deported back to their home countries, often without safe passage or any way of ensuring that they will not end up back in the hands of criminals. The NGO Tenaganita is working to try to persuade the government to allow them access to the girls so that they are safe and protected upon their return home.
All I am able to do is give them my time and hopefully empower them through the dance I am teaching them. Hopefully, enable them to reconnect with their feminity in a positive way. In Malaysia though, Belly Dance still considered to be linked to prostitution and stripping and is occasionally written about in the media in a negative light so we decided the best way to deal with that is to call it ‘Tribal Dance’.
These women are of a variety of ages and are mostly from places like Vietnam, Indonesia and India and most of them do not speak English so I have the help of a translator. Luckily, Tribal Belly Dance is a language of its own and despite any language barriers we are still able to connect and I am able to show them how to improvise with each other.
I hope to be able to do this for many more groups of women who live in poverty and have not had the same opportunities in life as myself as well as those who have experienced violence or been victims of trafficking.
If you would like to donate clothes or toiletries to the women at the centre in Kuala Lumpur, please contact me on whatsapp +60125997687
If you would like to know more about the work of the NGO that ran this awareness campaign, visit their website Change Your World
And the organisation that works with trafficked victims Tenaganita