Riding to help break the slavery cycle…

ALANNA Davis says she is a survivor of domestic abuse, and is using her experience to help stand up for women halfway across the world.

The Jerrabomberra resident will join 16 other women from around Australia in a 400-kilometre cycle challenge across Cambodia to raise money and awareness for women victimised by human trafficking and sex slavery in and across Cambodian borders.

The 10-day journey, organised by women’s networking group Business Chicks, will also include visits to local refuges and shelters.

Alanna Davis. Photo: Gary Schafer

Alanna Davis. Photo: Gary Schafer

Thousands of women and young girls have been trafficked into slavery, sexual exploitation and prostitution in Cambodia, with the majority of victims between 12-17 years old.

Alanna says the statistics are “shocking”.

“It’s sad because for many of these families who are living in poverty, the lure of selling their daughter proves to be too much because it’s one less mouth to feed,” she says.

“Sometimes they don’t know they’re selling them to brothels, then once the girls are in the brothel they’re told they’ve got a huge debt to pay off and they can never leave. So it’s a vicious cycle and once they’re in it, they’re most likely in it till they die.”

Alanna, who is a practice manager at a local family law firm, has been training every day to prepare for the ride, slowly notching up kilometres and bracing herself for the “extreme heat.”

“I’ve never really been much of a cyclist, I only bought a bike two months ago, so for me it will be a challenge, but the whole time I will be thinking about these women – for me I get to go home again, they don’t,” she says.

So far Alanna has raised more than $5000 to go towards the Cambodian-based Acting for Women in Distressing Situations Foundation and the Somaly Mam Foundation, and needs just over $500 before she heads off on February 7.

The 33-year-old says she was inspired to take part in the ride after reading the autobiography of Somaly Mam, a Cambodian woman who, at just 14, was sold to a brothel but eventually escaped, setting up her own foundation to help others in her situation.

Another driving force was Alanna’s own experience – she has been in two abusive relationships, starting from when she was just 18.

“At that age you don’t know what to do… you’re just not sure whether it’s normal or not,” she says.

“It took me about 12 months to get out of that relationship, but luckily for me, I had family and friends to support me. For some of these women in third world countries, they have no-one.”

Alanna says she is eager to change perceptions that women who encounter domestic abuse are “weak”.

“I got through it, and I feel stronger now and more educated about the situation than ever before. I’m one of those people who wants to stand up for the minority.”

 

A networking fundraiser will be held to support Alanna’s efforts at As you like it café, Childers Street, Civic on Friday, January 31. Book tickets at

trybooking.com/ECNF or visit wattsmccray.com.au/cx/people/alanna-davis to donate.

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