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September 19th, 2014

Baroness Cox Endorses Powerful Novel Exposing Horrors of Child Sex-Trafficking

Lydia's Song (cover)

Child sex-trafficking is a global crime of shocking proportions. UNICEF reports that as many as 2,000,000 children are sexually exploited around the globe each year. But the massive numbers involved and the hidden nature of the ‘trade’ can make it hard to see the individuals who are so brutally affected. In her bold debut novel, Lydia’s Song, Katherine Blessan seeks to address just this issue.

Drawing on first-hand accounts of the child sex-trade in Cambodia, Katherine presents an all-too-credible account of how quickly girls can find themselves enslaved. The book is honest in its descriptions of the brutal way these children are treated and how powerless they are to change their own fates without the help of others devoted to freeing them. Endorsing Lydia’s Song, Baroness Caroline Cox comments, ‘This powerful novel gives a challengingly painful insight into the horrific truths of child sex-trafficking. The book describes the raw suffering of sexual  slavery and the poignancy of complex relationships affected by trafficking but concludes with a message of hope – that Christ’s power can enable love and forgiveness even in extreme cruelty and suffering.’

Katherine lived and taught in Cambodia for a number of years and she writes much of the story through the eyes of Lydia, an English teacher living in the capital. Lydia’s experiences of Cambodia and its people are generous and evocative, and her romantic involvement with a local man adds depth and life to the novel. When a young and abandoned girl, Song, unexpectedly crosses her path, Lydia takes Song to live in her home and cares for her. However, both their lives are dramatically turned upside down when Song is kidnapped and sold into Cambodia’s ugly virginity market. ‘When I first got the idea for my novel it gripped me and wouldn’t allow me to let it go,’ comments Katherine. ‘Even though it was a long eight year process, the combination of elements and themes convinced me I had a story worth telling.’

The Cambodian sex-trade is complex and the immunity most perpetrators face from prosecution is brought to the fore in Lydia’s ultimately fruitless attempts to track down Song. However, the book reveals the important role played by many NGOs and charities in combatting the crime. After Song is moved on to work in a squalid Phnom-Penh brothel, Katherine describes how she is eventually rescued by a faith-based mission from prostitution and given a chance to find a new life and identity. When Lydia and Song finally meet again many years later Song has an incredible tale of both pain and hope to share.

The way in which Lydia’s Song tackles such brutal issues makes it an inspiring and important novel. Alerting people to the horrors and very present realities of the child sex-trade is an essential element to combatting it and this dynamic, challenging and redemptive story does just that.

Lydia’s Song: The story of a child lost and a woman found is published by Instant Apostle and is available from bookshops and online in paperback and electronic formats.

UNICEF report: http://www.unicef.org/indonesia/Factsheet_CSEC_trafficking_Indonesia.pdf

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