Tens of thousands of girls in Asia at risk of being sold into prostitution or slave labour have recently been enrolled into over 600 ‘Bridge of Hope’ centres across Asia. The centres are run by aid charity GFA-World, and provide safety, free schooling, medical care and meals for children living in extreme poverty at risk of being sold into modern slave trades. The announcement marks International Day of the Girl on 11th October.
The 2019 Day of the Girl Child draws attention to critical issues facing millions of girls around the world, including education inequality, gender-based violence, and forced child marriage. Severe poverty results in parents taking extreme steps just to survive, including forcing their young daughters into slavery-like labor conditions or – worse – prostitution.
GFA-World founder Dr. K.P. Yohannan says, “Some of these girls living in the impoverished communities served by Bridge of Hope are among the most vulnerable in the world, with many of them unwanted and treated by their own families as nothing more than free labour or goods to be sold. Prostitution is legal in some parts of Asia so the chances of girls being victimised are drastically increased. Many of the poorest families are manipulated into selling their daughters to opportunists who promise a better life for them. But many of these girls are never heard from or seen again.”
Many impoverished parents in Asia deliberately starve their daughters in favour of feeding their sons. Supported by GFA-world, indigenous churches across Asia are speaking up for girls in danger. “Despite the good work the governments in these nations are doing to combat these issues, so much work still needs to be done,” says Yohannan. “This is our opportunity to stand alongside indigenous churches as they raise awareness in their communities, teach girls how to protect themselves, and present a message of hope that emphasises the value of girls.”
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2019, GFA World is a leading faith-based humanitarian and mission agency, bringing vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across Asia, especially to those who have yet to hear the “good news” of Jesus. This has included more than 70,000 sponsored children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,000 wells drilled, over 11,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 200,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. For more information about their Bridge of Hope project, click here.