Chester County author writes about ‘Facing the Monster’
By Steven Hoffman
Carol Metzker is the author of “Facing the Monster: How One Person Can Fight Child Slavery.” The West Chester resident has also written several articles and given more than 75 presentations and radio interviews about human trafficking over the years.
“The issue of human trafficking became very personal in 2004 when I came face-to-face with an 11-year-old girl rescued from slavery in the circus and the forced sex trade in India,” Metzker explained. “Had my family come from different circumstances, the little girl could have been my child. Subsequently while learning more about the crime, I found that slavery exists in every nation, although it’s illegal everywhere.”
Metzker felt compelled to raise awareness about the issue.
“In the last couple of years, my goal has been to spread the word that human trafficking exists in our communities and that we can do something about it,” she explained.
Metzker has also created and conducted drills—short scenarios based on real-life human trafficking situations with groups—that demonstrate how people can respond in those situations.
Volunteering at a residence for human trafficking survivors was a life-changing experience for Metzker.
“Discovering a nearby residence for female survivors of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation brought the situation close to home,” she said. “I’ve volunteered at that home three years now. The survivors could be my daughters, sisters or mother.”
Metzker said that sources indicate that the human trafficking in Chester County is divided into labor and sex trafficking.
“Although our county is one of the wealthiest, it also has a lot of migrant workers and a lot of need for people to serve businesses and individuals at low cost. We need help with landscaping and agriculture, in nail salons, and as cleaners, to name but a few. When people are hungry, homeless, undereducated, in family strife, or don’t speak English, they are vulnerable to exploitation.”
She is aware of several instances of human trafficking that have taken place close to home. She explained that a few years ago 24 migrant workers in Chester County paid a company to renew their visas. The company took their money, let the visas expire, and forced the laborers to work without pay and under threats of deportation (which can mean prison) and violence. After their rescue, the migrant workers won a lawsuit against the company owner/trafficker, but received no restitution because he hid his money and then took his own life.
More recently, when Metzker was eating lunch on High Street in West Chester, one of the survivors she volunteered with told her that she had gone to high school in West Chester. Her husband had sold her to support his drug habit.
These stories underscore the fact that human trafficking is more common than what many people realize.
“Not many people want to face the reality of such a monstrous issue in the country or community they love,” Metzker explained. “Until you've looked into the eyes of a survivor, as I have done, it's easy to ignore what seems like an overwhelming and heinous subject. But human trafficking is here and it’s not going away until we all take action against it.”