They are shuttled, in mini-vans, the length and breadth of continents, often sleeping in the vehicles between working shifts of up to 17 hours on farms, in brothels or back alley factories. Much of this type of work happens at night, a few hours here and a back-to-back double shift there. Beatings, rapes, sometimes even torture if they object, death a very real possibility if they try and escape. What is this modern insanity? This is the very real world of human trafficking and exploitation, the forgotten people shoved into cramped, dirty and degrading living conditions in the pursuit of “Land of Hope.”
These vulnerable people, usually poor, are deceived or forced into working abroad with promises of a better life. When they get there their passports are taken off them, they are forced to work behind locked doors and beaten or starved if they refuse. Sometimes they are killed and the threat of murder is always there. Their “masters” or “owners” make money by forcing them to work in sweatshops, dangerous jobs or as prostitutes.
These intolerable circumstances are experienced by workers trafficked and deprived of their liberty and the very basic freedoms we take for grated the world over. If the victim manages to get to the police, she is often not helped because she has no documents or the crime is not taken seriously. Because she is likely to be deported to her own country where she will probably be murdered, she doesn’t usually try to contact the authorities and so human trafficking continues to grow.
I first read this book in October 2012, and found it one of the most powerful, captivating and emotionally stirring fictional books I have read in a very long time. Junying Kirk manages with great persuasion and artful writing, to bring this modern moral dilemma right into our hearts and minds, through the fantastically created main character of Pearl Zhang.
The story sucks you in immediately and with perfect imagery, Kirk most effectively uses Pearl’s character to narrate the story, and introduce the reader to the dark and painful world of human trafficking, where individual stories are sometimes heartbreaking and often frustrating in their outcomes, as public and private agencies fight, often valiantly, but often with little or no useful result, to help men, women, and children who have been kidnapped, tricked, or forced by violence; into a world they never wanted or can handle.
It is a book of extremes with characters of ultra confidence and manipulative brilliance, through to the petrified characters often deeply emotionally troubled, due to the nature of their experiences and life’s reflections. The book contains many frightening, unfortunate, and true messages, told with imaginative twists and turns.
We often read fictional thrillers in the pursuit and desire for escapism for ourselves however; by the time the reader is introduced to each character and personal story, you will find yourself egging on the vulnerable to succeed in their desire to escape and seek a better life.
Every country is affected by human trafficking, whether it’s an origin country where people are trafficked from; a transit country where people are trafficked through; or a destination country where people are trafficked to. Men, women and children are trafficked. Due to the hidden and illegal nature of human trafficking, gathering statistics on the scale of the problem is difficult. Look beyond the surface of the fight against trafficking, and you will find misleading statistics and decades of debate over laws and protocols.
Each personal story in this book is enthralling and testimony to the author’s knowledge of the subject matter and intelligent writing. Each person, like all immigrants believe “The Land of Hope” in Europe, Japan or the USA will be the answer to their problems. Too often immigrants only realise that the life they left behind, was in many ways, better then the life they now find themselves exposed to. They can only think pleasant things in their dreams and hold onto the happiness of home in their hearts, not their day to day reality.
Human trafficking is a global phenomenon that each year forces millions into lives as prostitutes, labourers, child soldiers, and domestic servants. This modern form of slavery impacts every continent and type of economy, while the industry continues to grow with global profits reaching nearly $32 billion annually.
This book is absorbing, cleverly written, and fast-paced style throughout with an informative and educational element driven by great characters. The book is powerful in its culmination with an action packed yet, heart tugging ending. It leaves the reader considering this very real world issue and yet, the characters are so credible, you are left wondering if there is an Ah Fang, Madam Lin or even a Dragon in your locality.
Remember, this modern day form of slavery could be happening on your street, in your town and most definitely within all major cities. If you want to help tackle this issue and don’t know how the answer is simple. Read this exceptional book by Junying Kirk and tell someone else the story. By giving these faceless and oft forgotten victims a voice, we can turn the tide on this outrageous crime.
As for the real issue itself, the lack of agreement on how to define “trafficking” hasn’t slowed campaigners’ fight. Rather, defining trafficking has become their fight. Most of all, what is lost is any understanding or appreciation of the challenges faced by the millions of people working, struggling and surviving in abusive conditions, whose experiences will never appear anywhere except as a statistic. It is for all these reasons that makes this book – “Land of Hope,” by Junying Kirk a book of immense and incomparable modern importance.
A truly compelling and potent read.
J.J. Collins is an Indie Author, Blogger and political commentator based in the U.K. Author of Famine to Freedom: The Irish in the American Civil War”; James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, and American Presidents: Life, Career and Legacy. Further links: J J Collins Author Page on Amazon & @JJCollinsauthor; JJCollinsauthor.com.