“I kidnap girls from their traffickers. Their pimps never know it until the girls are in the car with me, speeding toward the safe house.”
Iana Matei did not always do such things. In fact, Matei, a once battered, imprisoned woman, had spent 10 years carefully constructing a better life halfway around the world. This life was interrupted by a single phone call that would eventually lead to the rescue of over 700 victims of forced prostitution. Iana Matei has achieved notoriety in the international community for her fight against human trafficking in eastern Europe – including the Reader’s Digest European of the Year award in 2010. However, her solutions are local: teaching rescued children vocational skills and developing projects with sustainable jobs. Thus depriving traffickers of one of their most valuable tools: the false promise of work abroad. Author Pamela Rigdon shares a fictionalized biographical account of Iana Matei’s initiation into the world of human trafficking. The three girls profiled in I Kidnap Girls -Tara, Louisa and Nicoletta – are composites of real-life experiences from the rescued victims. Profits from the sale of each book go to fund lana Matei’s work in Romania. Matei works to educate employees and volunteers working in refugee centers, on identifying vulnerable Ukrainians in danger of being trafficked.
Pamela Rigdon is the author of Sock Hunting and Other Pursuits of the Working Mother and various magazine articles. She lived and worked in Romania from 1993-2001, where she managed the Lydia magazine office in Bucharest and later worked with a humanitarian foundation serving abandoned children. She now resides in Milwaukie, Oregon where she lives with her husband, Dean.