Human Trafficking survivor and anti-slavery activist, awarded TIP Report Hero 2018 award for acting to End Modern Slavery.

Blessing Okoedion, formerly trafficked from Nigeria to Italy to work in the sex-slave trade, has been awarded the TIP Report Hero acting to End Modern Slavery award in the 2018 honours list, accompanying the launch of the 2018 TIP Report.

The award not only acknowledges the continuing efforts by Blessing to demand that human trafficking is a matter of concern for everyone in the world, it also acknowledges the importance of Blessing’s role in giving voice to the voiceless, the often forgotten victims of human trafficking. 

Blessing is one of only 110 recipients of the award since 2011 when the first awards were bestowed.  Blessing’s story is detailed in her publication The Courage of Freedom: A Woman Escaped from the Hell of Trafficking (2017),  co-written with Italian journalist Anna Pozzi. Sadly and frighteningly, her story echoes that of many young women around the world who are duped into leaving their homes with the prospect of gainful employment only to realise once they arrive in the country, they are trapped by the very person who promised them a job. They are invariably forced into prostitution to repay exorbitantly inflated travel expenses and false debts imposed upon them, without any possibility of escaping years and years of servitude. 

Blessing is one of the rare, fortunate people to manage to pull her life together, but not without the help and support of the Ursuline Religious sisters in Italy, who took her to Casa Rut, a ‘safe house’ in the southern Italian town of Caserta.

Casa Rut is one of an increasing number of ‘safe houses’ run by Religious worldwide, in response to call to minister to victims of Modern Slavery and exploitation.  

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