A grand charity auction raised almost 65,000 euros during a fundraising event held at the Hotel Castillo in Monda last week.
The event was held in aid of the Dutch foundation, Free a Girl, an international organisation dedicated to freeing young girls from prostitution and helping to convict their capturers. Thousands of girls go missing every year in India, lured by traffickers under false pretences, or abducted in the streets, and they are then sold to brothels.
The auction, which was led by well-known Dutch auctioneer, Junior Zegger, offered several exclusive trips, including a holiday for two in Los Angeles, a weekend aboard a luxury yacht and a chance to meet Dutch football ace, Wesley Sneijder, in Nice.
Other items up for auction were a week's stay at the Hotel Castillo, golfing weekends, gastronomic experiences and a trip to Nepal to visit one of the Free a Girl projects.
In addition to the auction and an extensive 12 course dinner, guests were treated to an exclusive concert performed by several celebrated Dutch artistes, including Gypsy Bros, Fred Diaz and Thomas Berge, a young singer from the Netherlands who is ambassador of Free a Girl.
There was also a guest appearance by the 1970s king of soul, George McCrae, who entertained the selective audience with some of his greatest hits, including the iconic disco anthem, 'Rock Your Baby'.
The event was hosted by Dutch television presenter, Claudia Schumacher, who explained that all proceeds from the event will go to School for Justice in India. This unique project, which was recently acknowledged at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, gives child prostitution victims the opportunity to study to become lawyers and prosecutors.
It is estimated that 1.2 million children are being exploited in the sex industry in India, yet, last year, only 55 cases led to a conviction. In the past 9 years, the Free a Girl foundation has helped free over 4,000 girls from brothels in Asia.
“Child prostitution is a global issue and therefore needs an international approach. With the proceeds of this event, we will expose exactly what is going wrong with the legal system in India and we will start a lobbying process based on these young girls' cases,” Evelien Hölsken, co-founder and director of Free a Girl, explained.
“The cases often take too long, victims do not receive protection during the trial and there are simply not enough specialised lawyers. We also believe that specialised courts that only deal with human trafficking should be appointed. India has only one of those and that should be expanded,” the director continued.
According to data from the Human Development Index published by the UNDP, approximately 54 percent of the population in India lives in poverty.
Child trafficking and prostitution is a billion dollar business and, in addition, child trafficking routes exist from Nepal to Bangladesh and Pakistan to the Middle East.