“Amazing, life-changing and heartbreaking all in one”

This is how Melody Towns, Telstra Tasmanian Young Businesswoman of the Year and founder of Be Hers, describes her recent trip to Cambodia to Scott Haas, her first time seeing for herself the tragic situation of women and girls trapped in prostitution and sexual slavery—an issue that she’s been campaigning against for the past six years.

The team stayed in Phnom Penh in the red light district, in one of the busiest hotels along the brothel strip, a place bustling with prostitutes and their clients, which Melody found particularly confronting. She says, “I think it revealed to me the huge issue, not only of human trafficking, but placing value on women, and what that actually looks like around the world, especially when it’s fuelled by poverty and despair.”

Human trafficking is a world-wide phenomenon, although, as Melody explains, it’s different in every country. The work Be Hers has done with A21 in Europe, where women are kidnapped and sold or traded as sex slaves, is quite different from the situation in Cambodia, which is very much fuelled by poverty—this is a nation that was essentially wiped out only 40 years ago. However, the real, universal reason why human trafficking occurs is a lack of value on women.

Melody says, “I take it for granted that I’m valued and loved, but I heard a saying that “Men are like gold, but women are like cloth. Once a cloth is ripped it’s ruined forever.” This statement sums up the attitude, not only in Cambodia but in so many places, towards women.

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More precious than rubies.

“One of the most powerful moments for me was walking into one of the She Rescue Homes, and talking with a group of little girls—and they were little girls—there were three babies in the house and the oldest was only seventeen–and just being able to sit with them and say, “you know what? To God you are more precious than rubies.” Those girls had never heard that. I thought, “you can rescue someone, but real freedom needs to come from within.”

Melody says at times the problem of a world where women are not valued in this way can seem overwhelming, but at the end of the day to succumb to the enormity of the problem is actually failing the one person that can be helped. And if it’s for one, then it’s worth it.

Be Hers, run solely by volunteers, has grown exponentially and taken on a life of its own since Melody’s initial desire to do something to help six years ago. So many different people have felt inspired, and empowered, that they can do something. Melody says, “We’re encouraging everyday people that you don’t have to be overwhelmed by such an enormous issue, but you can do what you can, by attending events, following our social media, by spreading awareness. It’s been incredible seeing the generosity of people across the nation.”

“We’ve got a team of dreamers, and sometimes that can look like a problem because we think ‘how are we going to change the world?’, and create up the most crazy ideas, but every single time God meets us, and I’m so ready to take the next step. I’m heartbroken by this and I want to do all I can—all we can—to make a difference.

Your Christmas shopping can release someone from slavery.

If you go to the website, www.behers.org.au, not only will you be able to subscribe to their mailing list and stay up-to-date about events in your area, but there’s something incredibly practical you can do right now: buy beautiful jewellery.

Be Hers are collaborating with Francesca jewellery, who have designed a stunning range of bracelets, rings, and others, all the proceeds of which go towards the ending of human trafficking.

Make sure you check out these beautiful designs, and help make a difference someone’s life this Christmas!

Be Hers is an awareness-raising as well as fundraising enterprise, seeking to educate people in the developed world about the reality of those trapped in sexual slavery. Their signature fundraising event, “Be Her Freedom”, has grown exponentially since its inception six years ago, and is now running in multiple locations across Australia. All funds raised through Be Hers go to the A21 Campaign, who work on the frontlines, restoring freedom, hope and justice to victims of trafficking.