Child trafficking survivor named “Woman of the Year”
By Matters India Reporter
Kottayam: A leading Indian magazine has named a survivor of child trafficking who now fights modern day slavery globally as its “Woman of the Year 2018.”
The Vanitha (woman), a publication of the Kerala-based Malayala Manorama Group, on May 1 chose Rani Hong for the prestigious award.
The magazine notes that Rani has dedicated her life to crusade against human trafficking, slavery and child labor for the past 19 years. She has served as a special adviser to the United Nations.
She founded with her husband Trong Hong the US-based Tronie Foundation that provides support to survivors of human trafficking and promote and protect their rights.
She also initiated the first World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, which is now marked on July 30 every year by the UN.
Born in Kochi, Kerala, Rani was abducted by a human tracking racket from her family at the age of seven. She was beaten, starved, and caged. By age eight, her physical condition and emotional state were so dire that she was near death. No longer of any value to her slave owner, she was sold into illegal adoption in Canada.
Rani realized that she was a victim of human trafficking when she visited her parents in Kerala 21 years later. It prompted her to devote the rest of her life to raising awareness around human trafficking and slavery.
Trong Hong, a victim of child trafficking in his native Vietnam whom she met during her schooldays, became her life partner. In 2006, they founded the Tronie Foundation to educate the public about trafficking and to support survivors. The initiative grew into a passionate voice for victims on the world stage.
Through the campaign christened ‘Rani’s Voice’, the couple focuses on driving awareness of human trafficking and slavery and encourages the survivors to speak out.
She has been honored with many awards, including the Jefferson Award and the United Nations Human Rights award.
Rani lives in Olympia in Washington, DC, United States, with her husband and children.
It was in the US that Rani received her freedom through adoption in 1979.
After 21 years of separation, she was reunited with her birth mother on her first trip to India in search of her roots. Both Rani and her mother had thought the other family member was dead, since that was what they were both told by those involved in her captivity.
Since 1999, Rani has worked with non-profit organizations in the US and other countries to educate the public about human trafficking, which is now considered the largest money-making industry in the world, after arms and illicit substances. The 1997 findings by the Us Department of State determined that an estimated 50,000 women and children are reportedly sold into the US every year.
Rani is also a spokesperson for a non-profit organization Shared Hope International. Shared hope works with many countries to educate the issues of human trafficking.
Rani shared her story several times with the Washington State legislators between 2001-2003, pleading with them to pass laws to prevent trafficking and provide aid to the victims of human trafficking. During those years, she had the privilege to see the Governor of Washington state sign 4 bills that put her request in State Laws. These laws were the first in the country. They set the role model for the others states to follow for the prevention of Human Trafficking in the US.
In 2003, Rani was invited to an international conference on human trafficking that was be held in Washington, D.C. and hosted by the State Department in partnership with the grass-roots organization War Against Trafficking Alliance. Rani was among 300 people worldwide the Department of State asked to participate in the roundtable discussions on Capitol Hill.
At this event Rani spoke on how the media could play key role in combating this problem. Rani, along with others, also spoke on how the local governments could set up Task Forces to address the issue of the trafficking problem.
Rani has been working with several different types of media, including Television, radio, magazines and newspapers to be a strong voice for the victims of trafficking, as well as for the minorities who come to the US.
She was adopted into a stable American home in Washington State, where she began to find healing and a sense of personal freedom. She was finally reunited with her mother in 1999, and began her advocacy work against human trafficking.
In 2006, the Tronie Foundation was founded to provide serve survivors of slavery and to help them become leaders by empowering them to work with global leader in the movement to end human trafficking. Rani has recently launched the first Global Survivor Network that consists of survivors in 12 countries.
Rani’s role as a leader in fighting human trafficking has catalyzed change in the U.S. and internationally. In 2010, Rani addressed the United Nations general assembly, and worked with the UN to launch the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, which provides a way for people of all walks of life to help victims of human trafficking.
She is an advisor to major corporations, including Google, on ways to make an impact on human trafficking issues. Her story has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN and other international media. She also leads Rani’s Voice, an alliance to help other survivors speak up against slavery.
Rani’s ability to overcome trauma, loss, grief has inspired leaders from all over the world to join the global movement against human trafficking.
She is passionate about sharing her story and giving a voice to the millions of people who are imprisoned, enslaved and silenced, and unable to tell their own stories.