Friday, May 3, 2013

Open Windows, my flash fiction piece in Epiphany Magazine


 My flash fiction piece "Open Windows" was published in the May issue of Epiphany Magazine .You can read it here. It is available for free online.
 Warning: this blog entry is not a lighthearted one. It is related to the theme of Open Windows.

  I would like to write about the woman who inspired me to write this story: Susana Trimarco. Susana Trimarco was a conventional woman living in Tucuman, an Argentine province, until her life changed forever on April 3, 2002.
 On this date, her twenty-three year old daughter, Maria de Los Angeles Veron (Marita), went to a medical appointment but never reached her destination. (The picture I posted on this blog entry is a photo of Marita Veron).
  Her partner and her parents reported her disappearance to the police on that same day, but the police officer made fun of them. He said she might have run away with another man.
  A witness reported that Marita had been forced to get into a red car by a group of men. Far from supporting Susana, the police ignored her. Susana decided to take the matter into her own hands. 
  While investigating the matter, Susana raised her grandchild, Micaela. Micaela was only two years old when her mother, Marita, disappeared.
   There is plenty of evidence that Marita has been kidnapped and forced into prostitution. In other words, she has been sold as a commodity and used as a sex slave.
  Even though Susana received several death threats, she  never gave in to fear. As a result of her search, she discovered a criminal network of Human Trafficking and, over time, she was able to release hundreds of women and girls.
  Risking her own life, she visited brothels to gather information and find her own daughter. She pretended she had the intention to buy girls or women. In doing so, she ended up saving more victims, but not Marita. Anahi, a young woman who was set free after being a victim of sexual trafficking reported that she had seen Marita in the same brothel where they had been used as sex slaves. Some of the victims are sold to networks in other countries.
     Susana started a foundation called Fundacion Maria de los Angeles, an organization that rescues victims of human trafficking and provides counseling and social assistance.
    In 2008 Susana Trimarco’s efforts led to legislation that prohibits human trafficking in Argentina. Since then, 3,000 people have been saved, but the problem still exists. (Marita disappeared when the act of trafficking  was not  even contemplated by the Argentine law; hence, it was not considered illegal).
   In 2007, on International Woman’s Day, the US Department of State honored Trimarco with the International Women of Courage Award.
   In 2012 Canada honored her with the John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award.
   Unfortunately, her husband, Marita’s father, died in 2010. Yet Susana Trimarco never stopped searching for their daughter. In December 2012, despite the overwhelming evidence against those who were involved in the kidnapping and trafficking of Marita Veron, the judges dismissed all the information provided by the witnesses, and the accused ones were all released.
    Susana Trimarco has been nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, but the only award that she yearns for is to find her daughter. Eleven years after her disappearance she is still looking for her. And she will never give up.

Important note: this is not an isolated case. Forced prostitution and human trafficking are real ongoing problems that exist not just in developing countries but also in the United States and Europe. Here's a link to clarify some misconceptions: http://www.ksmm.admin.ch/ksmm/en/home/themen/menschenhandel/irrmeinungen.html

34 comments:

  1. What a very sad story. I hope she does find her daughter one day.

    Your piece had a much happier ending that I'm guessing the real one ever will.

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    1. Jean, thank you so much for reading the story and the blog post.The main problem is that there are police officers, judges and politicians involved in this.

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  2. Nice story. Well written. Good dialogue.
    It's terrible that this kind of thing is happening, but it is.

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    2. Thanks for reading this Richard. I hope one day justice will prevail. As I mentioned above, there are judges, police officers and politicians involved in this trafficking.

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  3. Hi Julia,

    I have read your article in the magazine link and the link back to this article is poignant and reflective. A breath of fresh ocean air.

    Such a terrible tale of torment, of seeking the truth, of her finding her daughter, is further enhanced that during such horrible trauma, Susana has been nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. Most assuredly, a secondary situation to the safe return of her beloved daughter.

    In peace and hope,

    Gary

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    1. Thanks, Gary. I admire Susana's strength because she was able to do so much despite the weight of her sorrow. Unfortunately, there are many other women who have been kidnapped by these mafias. She is not the only one. Sexual slavery exists and we need to spread the word.

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  4. Hi Julia .. you have highlighted the injustice of women - young and very young, and no doubt older .. people are cruel and unthinking ... bullies in the nastiest of ways.

    I sincerely hope Susanna finds her daughter, but she has done something wonderful in having the strength to look, to highlight the tragedies, and to set up her foundation ..

    Courage and strength ... and humility - those females in all countries deserve so much more from life ..

    Your story is very poignant - and I prefer the happy outcome, but of course that is not usually the case ..

    Great writing .. with thoughts Hilary

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    1. Hilary, thank you so much for reading me and for your thought-provoking comment. This case is based on reality. I know people will find this subject unpleasant, but I believe that by burying it under the ground we become part of the problem -- not the solution. Again, thank you so much for your support.

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  5. What a terrible thing to happen. We keep telling ourselves this sort of thing doesn't happen any more - and then another case is exposed.

    I liked your story though I don't that turn of events happens often. Nice to think it might though.

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    1. Hi Patsy, thanks for reading this. This is not an isolated case. Many women have been kidnapped to become sexual slaves. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, this is a 32 billion dollar industry. According to the US Department of Justice, human trafficking has become the second fastest growing criminal industry-just behind drug trafficking. Living in denial is not an option. Thanks for commenting.

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  6. So sad!! I love your story!! Susana Trimarco was a true hero.

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    1. Thanks, Keith. Last year I heard on the news that a woman in this situation was rescued by a man who went to a brothel, and this sparked the idea to write this flash fiction piece. So it is based on a true story.

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  7. Really enjoyed reading your story - so glad Lila escaped!

    Yes, Ms Trimarco is a truly amazing woman. I saw this on the BBC website a couple of weeks ago, hope you don't mind me linking it here.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22250772

    Take care
    x

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    1. Hi, Old Kitty. THANK YOU so much for the link. It's good to know you enjoyed reading my story. Opening the windows is about not being indifferent to this painful reality. There are human beings who live as slaves in this underground world. And it happens in many countries, including the United States and countries in Europe. Hugs.

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  8. Julia,
    This is serious inspiration for your story. Didn't know about this incident before now. I have to admire Susan Trimarco's persistence and the fact that she hasn't given up hope.

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    1. Thanks J.L. Campbell. She is an amazing woman. I cannot even start to imagine the pain she has to endure.

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  9. Julia, congrats on having your flash fiction piece published. I will come back to read “Open Windows” but I wanted to comment on your excellent and eye-opening blog post. Susana Trimarco is such a strong and courageous woman. Her daughter, Marita, is beautiful and what happened to her is horrendous beyond words. Kidnapped and being used as a sex slave and the police do nothing? Outrageous and appalling! Even more appalling that this was not even illegal in Argentina until Susana’s efforts to get legislation passed, and bravo for her for doing so despite death threats and risking her own life. Because of her remarkable bravery and tenacity, and the foundation she started, many women have been saved. It was so wrong that the case against Marita’s kidnappers was dismissed. All Susana’s honors are well deserved. I hope she is awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, although I realize the only prize she wants is to find her daughter. I truly hope she finds Marita one day. Thank you, Julia, for bringing this important issue to light in your blog. It is not just in Argentina, it happens here in the U.S., and all around the world.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and for commenting on it, Jersey. We need to make people aware of these things. I can't understand how these mafias operate so easily. I hope you will enjoy my flash fiction piece.

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  10. Wow. She achieved so much, but the loss of her daughter is a huge tragedy.

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    2. I think Susana Trimarco is an inspiration. Thank you for commenting.

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  11. Powerful story, Julia. I'm glad you're shedding on light on this shameful practice, that is far too common.

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    1. Thanks, Kimberly. It is a shocking story, but the first step to fix a problem is to acknowledge it. Think of these Ohio women who were in captivity for ten years. Nobody saw anything or heard anything for ten years... go figure.

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  12. There is a situation that people wants to play with women liberty for their own benefit in order to get money from the bodies of these ladies. The story is really impacting, but really good you are talking about it.

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    1. Thank you for reading the story and for commenting on it.

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  15. Thank you Julia for sharing this on my post about Jennifer Clement's excellent book Prayers for the Stolen.

    I read your flash fiction story, it is very moving. It makes me wonder how I would have reacted if I had read it before everything I have read in recent weeks, because as I read your piece I didn't want her to leave with him, I imagined, and perhaps it is the case (because you leave it up to the reader) that he would make her his slave too. Which is worse, to be slave to one alone, or slave to many and part of a community. Both are equally terrible, but I can imagine how they would be reluctant to trust anyone and especially a man.

    Thanks for highlighting this wonderful woman, the mother who never gives up, I really hope she will be reunited with her daughter one day. So, so sad.

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    1. Hi Claire.
      This flash fiction piece is based on a true story. The woman was released by a man (a client), so it was a good thing that it happened!
      Being the slave of a mafia is the worst, for sure. Hopefully, Lila became a free woman after all. I wrote it thinking that the man was a ray of hope to her because he challenged the power of the mafia...
      Thank you for reading the post and the story, and for commenting on both.

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  16. It is sad that the media does not pay enough attention to these tragedies... until they do... but it is never enough...

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  17. Thanks for that extra bit of information Julia, it is like the ending that we all wish for, but lurking in the back of our minds is always that fear that they escape one horror only to walk into another and that's another under reported story, the high incidence of kept slaves living within modern society, including some who are born into it. A story came out last year about 3 women in London and was a real shock to its citizens, thinking something like that couldn't happen in a modern, forward thinking city. It is important that we are made aware to support those fighting to get laws changed and woman's rights respected.

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    1. Sure. I agree with you.
      And the paradox of my story is that these mafias exist because clients EXIST. If men did not go to these brothels there would be no trafficking.

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I appreciate each and every comment. Thank you.