Androula Henriques, Cyprus
2010 International Women of Courage Award WinnerAndroula Henriques has fought for years against the buying and selling of women, pushing for long-term institutional change by lobbying government officials at the highest levels to take action against trafficking and to increase protection for its victims. She has created her own anti-trafficking network, made up of people in the media, NGOs, the diplomatic corps, and others, who also raise money for trafficking victims and rescue women from the hands of traffickers.
Ms. Henriques’ coalition organized a conference in Cyprus in November 2008 that brought together the groups STOP International, L'Association Contre L'Exploitation et L'Esclavage Sexuel ("Association Against Exploitation and Sexual Slavery"), Friends of Humanity, and the Cyprus Anti-Trafficking Movement. It attracted speakers from the United States and the EU, as well as representatives of the National Police, the House of Representatives, the Attorney General's Office, the Turkish-Cypriot community, several NGOs, and many journalists.
Beyond advocating for institutional change, Ms. Henriques has generously used her personal resources to help trafficked women who choose to testify against their traffickers. She has opened the doors of her own home to women preparing to testify in court against the cabaret owners who reportedly held them captive as sex slaves.
Ms. Henriques’ work to stop trafficking in Cyprus builds on her many years of experience advocating for human rights in other spheres and in other nations. Over the decades, Ms. Henriques, an educational psychologist by training, has helped fight global illiteracy, helped build schools in Guatemala, sheltered refugees fleeing the Pinochet regime in Chile and taken in refugees fleeing to Switzerland to escape violence in Greece during a military coup.
Her work in Cyprus, where powerful groups have financial interest in maintaining the status quo on trafficking, has required tremendous bravery. When asked why she is so passionate about helping trafficked women in Cyprus, Ms. Henriques simply responds that, all her life, she has "sympathized with the underdogs." The most terrible type of exploitation, she says, “is sexual exploitation, because it kills the soul.”