Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Review: Trafficked by Sibel Hodge

Review of Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave by Sibel Hodge

This novella follows the horrific saga of Elena who, like so many every year, is brutally forced against her will into a life of prostitution.  Lured away from her home and family under false pretences by the promises of a better life made to her by a trusted friend, Elena faces a ghastly series of humiliations, degradations and disappointments deliberately intended by her captors to break her spirit.  They succeed and ultimately threaten Elena’s will to live.  Can there be any real hope for someone in such a predicament?

Hodge certainly doesn’t pull any punches in Trafficked.  Her descriptions of the violent sexual violations Elena undergoes and her subsequent despair are raw, gritty and realistic.  So too is her portrayal of the world’s (and law enforcement’s) general disinterest, uncaring to the plight of those involved in the sex trade—willing or not.  This book delivers an important message about the assumptions most of us make about the people working in the sex trade.  How many of us walk past the often graphic phone kiosk advert cards explicitly selling sexual services and shake our heads in disgust at how anyone could choose to live that type of life?  Yet, we really have no idea whether those women (and men) had any say in the matter or not.  Trafficked certainly makes you think about it.  This book puts a human face on the countless people that we, as a society, largely (and wrongfully) view as 'throw-aways' who 'made their own choice'. This book is an exceptional tool for raising public awareness of the international and epidemical problem of sex trafficking.

Its tone is somewhat reminiscent of the Liam Neeson film Taken.  Only here, the action is minimal and the cautionary tale is not directed to privileged young American tourists travelling abroad (a naturally rarefied bunch).  Rather, it strikes at the heart of the trafficking trade by specifically highlighting the type of circumstances under which most victims are drawn away from the safety of their homes by the treacherous assurance of a better life for themselves and their loved ones.  Sadly, this book probably will not reach the hands of those who most need to read it—those living in poverty who are most vulnerable to this form of crime.  That said, it accomplishes its goal of raising awareness in those of us lucky enough to be in a position to have access to this work.

I found the pacing, timing and writing exceptional.  Elena’s desperation, fear and anguish are palpable throughout—something difficult to maintain, even in a relatively short novella. Although the heroine does have at least two major lapses in judgment as the story progresses, these are necessary.  They force the reader to remember that Elena is just a normal young woman who has been taken from her natural environment and forced into a situation that is both unnatural and horrific.  Elena was never equipped to think deviously or deceptively.  Thus, at these pivotal points in the story, she has simply not been prepared to be as pathologically cynical and suspicious as she needs to be in order to deal effectively with such predators.  Hodge uses these incidents to illustrate how Elena’s captivity has eroded away the woman she used to be, leaving only an empty husk of her former self.  She is irrevocably changed.  Her hopes and dreams all but dead, Elena not only learns to not make the same mistakes twice but, in the process, becomes deadened to almost everything around her—not out of disinterest but simply to survive. 

Excellent book! I highly recommend it.

Five out of five stars

Trafficked is available at Amazon.com
$2.99 Kindle edition
$8.99 Paperback

Trafficked is also available at Amazon.co.uk
£1.98 Kindle edition
£16.92 Paperback


  1. Great review. I really enjoyed this book - it's quite a break with Sibel Hodge's normal style.

  2. Thanks Derek,

    Yes, I think it's very moving and engaging. A very important book in my view!