Spanish evangelical NGO ‘Fiet Gratia’ awarded for its work against human trafficking

“In the flats where they are exploited, there are no windows, and bunk beds with up to ten women, who have to pay 200 euros”, says its national director after the recognition of the authorities.

Evangelical Focus

Protestante Digital · VITORIA · 24 NOVEMBER 2023 · 16:40 CET

Members of the Fiet Gratia team, with the Menina 2023 prize awarded by the government delegation of the Basque Country.,
Members of the Fiet Gratia team, with the Menina 2023 prize awarded by the government delegation of the Basque Country.

The Spanish evangelical NGO Fiet Gratia received the Menina 2023 Award in the category of social organisation, with which the government delegation in the Basque Country recognises its work in the region in favour of the eradication of violence against women.

Fiona Bellshaw, national director of the NGO, received the award at a ceremony held at the Villa Suso Palace in the Spanish city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, along with Margarita Díaz, coordinator of detection in the Basque Country, and Mila Alonso, Fiet Gratia's social worker.

Fiet Gratia is a Christian non-governmental organisation that works to rescue women victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. The NGO has been in the Basque Country since 2020. It has a staff of a dozen professionals and volunteers and focuses on the main hotspots of prostitution.


“Human trafficking is the most extreme form of gender violence”

In her speech after receiving the award, Bellshaw pointed out that “it is a recognition that encourages us to keep going forward, working with excellence, which is what the women and children we serve deserve”.

“Human trafficking is the most extreme form of gender-based violence, as it reduces women to objects that can be bought or sold”, she added.

According to the director of Fiet Gratia, women who are in this situation find it very difficult to leave “because of fear, lack of knowledge of their rights, or lack of opportunities”.

Bellshaw criticised the romantic or glamorous image of prostitution portrayed in films or series. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Women are destroyed in every aspect of their lives. When they come to our residences, they bring health and psychological problems, and even find it difficult to regain their identity, because it has been stolen”.

Fiet Gratia takes action to help those women who, in many cases, have come to Spain from abroad through deception and false promises of work.

“When we enter the flats where these women are sexually exploited, we find places where sometimes there are no windows, where there may be bunk beds with up to ten women, who have to pay 200 to 300 euros per week for them”.

Furthermore, “they are forced to consume alcohol and drugs and perform practices they don't want every day. The people who control them don't see women, they only care about making money”, explained Bellshaw.

Spanish evangelical NGO ‘Fiet Gratia’ awarded for its work against human trafficking

Fiona Bellshaw (centre) with the Menina 2023 award, with other women of the Fiet Gratia team.


“We have to break with the idea that women are there because they want to”

Fiet Gratia has social workers, psychologists and lawyers who are able to help these women, as well as women who have finished their restoration process and have rebuilt their lives, some even working as social mediators.

She declared herself an “abolitionist", but stressed that change cannot come only from better laws but also from “education and prevention. We must consider it unacceptable to pay money for sexual services, and break with the idea that they are there because they want to be”.

She also underlined that “we cannot ignore the link between childhood sexual abuse, pornography - which is the prelude to prostitution - and trafficking. That's why we have to address all these aspects”, and reminded that “a call to an organisation like ours can save a life, taking it out of hell, giving it hope and freedom”.


The ‘Meninas’ awards

The ‘Meninas’ awards are granted annually by the government delegation in each region to individuals, entities and institutions that excel in the fight for the eradication of violence against women.

Denis Itxaso, the current government delegate in the Basque Country, stated that “through the ‘Menina awards’, the Ministry of Equality aims to make visible a fundamental work, a social muscle that faces every day the unavoidable task of eradicating gender violence”.

Evangelicals, on the frontline in the fight against human trafficking
There are many examples in Spain of evangelical entities and organisations fighting against trafficking and implementing strategies for the protection of victims, as well as their social reintegration.

This work, carried out by several evangelical entities, has been recognised by local, regional and national authorities, which have developed collaboration agreements in this field.

Among others, the recent signing of an agreement between Diakonia and the Civil Guard, the launch of the anti-trafficking helpline, a protocol signed between the Police and the A21 Association, which was presented in July of this year.

Evangelical entities have also led direct action to help women victims of trafficking, the dissemination of audiovisual content, the setting up of professional forums, and the holding of marches to denounce and raise awareness.

At the European level, evangelicals have also been very active through the European Freedom Network, which brings together dozens of organisations on the European continent that are concerned with denouncing human trafficking and other forms of exploitation, and it is also working closely with the European Parliament, which is algo taking steps to fight human trafficking.


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