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Liverpool world premiere says stop the sex traffick

United Nations backs opera about Europe's £20bn dirty secret

Written by . Published on March 6th 2012.


Liverpool world premiere says stop the sex traffick

THE hidden world of sex trafficking is worth £20bn a year to those who trade in making the lives of women and young girls worse than worthless. 

In the EU, that's 800,000 of them every year. Within hours of being smuggled in, they are gang raped, their passports confiscated. They are beaten and often forced to have sex with up to 30 different men a day. More unpalatable truths? When they outlive their usefulness many are murdered – their bodies found in ditches. 

Nothing important, nothing really worth doing, is ever easy. I volunteered my time in order to shine a light on this vile 'trade’, and neither flood, fire or famine is going to stifle this debate

Now the United Nations and 10 other national and international NGOs are backing the world’s first opera on the subject – and it premieres here in Liverpool tomorrow night. 

Already nominated for an award in the House of Lords, Anya17 is a collaboration between the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic's young 10/10 Ensemble and students from the Royal Northern College of Music. 

Everybody is giving their time freely including its writers - British Composer Award winner Adam Gorb and librettist Ben Kaye – and the Pete Postlethwaite Award-winning director, Caroline Clegg. But not entirely by choice: despite an opera celebrating Slough recently getting £60,000 of public money to go ahead, Anya17's application for a £3,000 grant was turned down by the Arts Council. 

4. Anya %28Andrea Tweedale%29 Pleads For Her Life - Rncm RehearsalAnya, played by RNCM student Andrea Tweedale who spent time with victims of sex trafficking for the role

Left without receiving a single penny of public or private money, Gorb and Kaye remained stoic, if not passionate about getting an untold story out. 

They say they are in it because they want to make a difference. “Almost no-one knows about the industry,” Kaye says, “which is second only to the drugs trade and art has an important part to play in raising awareness. 

“The human stories flooded out,” he recalled in a recent interview. “Girls are treated as meat – there’s an aria in the opera about that – and the charities who try to help these victims tell me you wouldn’t have to drive more than 20 minutes from anywhere in this country to come across a victim of human trafficking.” 



Anya17 gets its first showing here on the eve of International Women's Day, but only just – having being stymied by venue problems. 

First it was booked in at the CUC, which subsequently closed down, then its second home, the Epstein Theatre, was flooded out last week. 

Now the venue is the 1,700 capacity Philharmonic Hall on Hope Street – itself at the edge of a red-light district itself until a decade ago. 

Adam GorbComposer Adam Gorb

But producers are undaunted by the setbacks: “You have to remain philosophical,” confessed Kaye. “Nothing important, nothing really worth doing, is ever easy. I volunteered my time, as did Adam Gorb, in order to shine a light on this vile 'trade’, and neither flood, fire or famine is going to stifle this debate.” 

Calls for the opera to tour have already come in from as far away as Australia and the USA. 

The RNCM cast, who recently visited trafficking victims in a safe house “somewhere in the north of England’ as part of their research into their roles, are the same ages as many trafficking victims and Kaye says they wept when they recalled their experiences. 

They will relate the compelling, intertwined stories of four females who are trafficked into the EU every year and propelled into a maelstrom of deceit and sexual violence. It will explore the stark choices facing the victims of sex trafficking; compliance, violence or escape through drugs, alcohol or death - the ultimate release.

The project’s official supporters include: The United Nations, The Human Trafficking Foundation, Unseen UK, STOP UK, Unchosen, Stop The Traffik, ECPAT UK, City Hearts, Anti-Slavery International, The Salvation Army, The Purple Teardrop Campaign, Catherine Bearder MEP, Tony Lloyd MP and Bob Walter MP. 

*Anya17 World Première, Wednesday March 7, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Hope St, L1. Tickets £10 from the Phil box office. A second performance will take place in Manchester at the RNCM on Friday March 9.

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Echo TedMarch 8th 2012.

See the Oldham Echo had absolutely nothing to say about dis

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