I am currently working on a thriller taking place in Hong Kong, and which deals with the terrible issue of stolen children in China. These children end up in families who cannot have children but are desperate to have one, but sometimes also end up begging on the streets. I was therefore very interested in Iveta’s Cherneva’s non-fiction book, Trafficking for Begging – Old Game, New Game. Iveta Cherneva works in the field of human rights and writes on the issue of human trafficking. In this interview, Iveta tells us more about her book.
Iveta: This is the first book to take up the idea that begging can be a form of human trafficking by arguing how this is the case under international law and in practice.
Jerome: What triggered you to write on such a difficult topic?
Iveta: Jerome, human trafficking, enslavement and exploitation are practices, which have existed since the dawn of civilization – since the time when one human being realized that he/she can control another human being and profit from that. Let’s think about the building of the Pyramids in Egypt – an example of mass-scale enslavement and human trafficking.
It is only over the last decades that we began thinking about defining human trafficking and expanding the types of exploitation, which should be covered, by going beyond the classical concept of enslavement. Begging, I find, is one of those activities that don’t necessarily and immediately make us think of human trafficking or enslavement. We usually give money to beggars thinking that they are lonely individuals in need of help, money and food. I decided to write Trafficking for Begging: Old Game, New Name because not a single book had taken up that topic and I wanted to prove that the exploitation of beggars is human trafficking. Going back to the title, I also chose this topic because I wanted to underscore that the practice has been around for a long time, hence: old game. In the same time, I wanted to draw attention to the fact that here we are shaking up things and re-conceptualizing old phenomena into new legal shapes and contours, which ultimately, I believe, is for the benefit of begging victims’ protection.
Jerome: Who are your readers?
Iveta: Lawyers, law students, international relations and public policy students, human rights practitioners, policy makers, moms and dads. People with a heart that can be touched by others being hurt.
Iveta: I’ve published a number of books and articles. To me ‘doing’ must be accompanied by ‘writing about it’, and vice-versa. Only then we can hope our efforts mean something. So, my journey as a writer has been parallel to my journey as a learner, speaker, organizer, listener and doer.
Jerome: Do you follow a specific writing process?
Iveta: For more technical longer legal pieces I first have to do extensive research before I sit down to write. For shorter pieces, such as articles or magazine features, which require mostly my thoughts, I just sit down and write. What my friends also know is that I write at night.
Jerome: Where do you find inspiration?
Iveta: In the news and by looking at what is around me.
Jerome: Who are your favourite authors?
Iveta: I have one – Arundhati Roy.
Jerome: Is there a book you wish you had written? Which one?
Iveta: It’s her book – The Good of Small Things.
Jerome: Do you have any tips for budding writers?
Iveta: If you have a message or a story you want to share, write it and share it. Also don’t be deterred by people around you who express scepticism. Yes, scepticism may be a product of jealousy, but it might be rooted elsewhere. Many people might simply not believe that it could happen, or that it could be easy to succeed.
People who care about you might also not want to encourage you in order to avoid you being disappointed. So scepticism is sometimes rooted in actual care and well-wishing. Learn how to be aware of this dynamics and keep going.
Jerome: What are you working on at the moment?
Iveta: I am writing a short article on human trafficking for begging for a journal. I hope I can share it with you when it’s finished.
Jerome: Please do. I’d love to read it and I am sure readers of this article would too!