Alumna publishes book on human trafficking

  • November 17, 2011
Alumna publishes book on human trafficking

Wendi Adelson publishes a fictional book based on her work on human trafficking.

A Gates alumna has published a book on human trafficking which she hopes will bring greater understanding of its human cost.

Wendi Adelson‘s book This is Our Story was published last month. Wendi [2002], who studied for an MPhil in International Relations at the University of Cambridge, is a visiting clinical professor at Florida State University College of Law and works as an attorney with the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University specialising in humanitarian issues around immigration, including domestic violence, unaccompanied immigrant children and trafficking.

She has been working on the book for four years, although she has never looked on it as work. “In a lot of ways I saw it as part of my self-therapy,” she says. “When you hear stories of horrific abuse on a daily basis writing about it allows you to share it with others as well as giving you a way to handle it.”

Wendi, who also writes a blog about human trafficking, says she wants to use the book as a way to communicate her clients’ stories to the general public while protecting their confidentiality. “I want to communicate the reality of my clients’ lives and to educate people about what the lives of these people who live in our community are like,” she says.

The book tells the fictional story of three women – a public interest immigration attorney in Florida and two victims of human trafficking. The attorney’s life is based on her own experiences and the victims are a compilation of the hundreds of stories she has heard in the course of her work. Wendi says many films and books on human trafficking tend to sensationalise victims’ stories. “They don’t tend to deal with their lives before they are trafficked and they never deal with their lives afterwards or how they move forward through the trauma it has caused them,” she says.

She adds that she wanted to highlight the victims’ vulnerability and how they got involved in trafficking. “People often say they should have known what they were getting into. They blame them in some way,” she says.

One of the victims is just 13 when the book starts. She is from a rural area of Argentina and comes to the US to go to school and help out in a family restaurant. She ends up in domestic servitude not being allowed to leave the house. The other is 17 and is from Slovakia. She was promised work in a restaurant. She begins there, but gets dragged into the commercial sex industry.

“I wanted to highlight women’s stories since my clients are mostly women,” says Wendi, “but men are also victims, particularly in the agricultural industry.”

The feedback Wendi has received so far has been good. A lot of professors at her university and colleagues at other universities have said they will use it on their courses. A copy is being placed in the Gates library in the Gates Room.

The book is available on Kindle and Wendi is putting together a website where people can order the paperback version. For more information contact Wendi at wendiadelson@gmail.com.

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