Two colleagues in the Au Pairing community have initiated a project to help international Au Pairs avoid being exploited.
Talya Shoup Burnett, of Best Au Pair Guide, and Edina Stone of Au Pair Clearinghouse, are partnering to create Prevent Exploitation of Au Pairs (P.E.A.P.). The organization’s purpose is to raise awareness of the exploitation of au pairs, a growing problem in Europe, Asia and in the United States.
The initiative is “in response to the growing frequency of sexual abuse of au pairs.” I have no data on the amount of reported sexual abuse, and no data about the kind of abuse increasing in the au pair community per se.
But, we do know that young women are vulnerable to being exploited by human trafficing and by the world-wide sex trade. As Nicholas Kristoff of The New York Times noted: at least 10 times as many girls are now trafficked into brothels annually as African slaves were transported to the New World in the peak years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
If any young woman thinks she’s becoming an au pair, and then finds herself subject to sexual abuse and assault, that’s one woman too many.
It can be hard for potential au pairs (and potential host families) to find accurate information about becoming an au pair — this is especially true outside the USA, and outside countries that have specific au pair labor policies and work visa requirements. Even when this information is available online, people may struggle to find it. And, it’s not that hard for potential au pairs to think they are working with a trustworthy agent, agency, site, or host family, only to discover that no one has her (or his) best interests in mind.
Every now and then we get a comment here on AuPairMom, where someone ‘advertises’ as a ‘host family’ or au pair web site. Most of the time I delete these because (not only do they violate the comments policy but also) they seem fishy to me. Just this week we had one, and I missed it. Luckily Anonamomma stepped in to warn everyone…
While I don’t want people to think that sexual abuse of au pairs is common, or for these sorts of alarms to be the first thing that people see about au pairs in their Google searches, potential au pairs need to be vigilant about their safety and their rights.
You can find more details on P. E. A. P.’s Facebook page.
What are your thoughts on this initiative?