Pop star Selena Gomez has been volunteering as an intern with A21, an organization dedicated to ending human trafficking throughout the world. Last fall, Elle magazine reported that Gomez has been volunteering with A21 since March 2018, and the singer has posted several images on Instagram related to her work with the group.
In an interview with E! News, the singer explained that she wanted to do more than simply donate money to a good cause or use volunteer work as a way to promote her image:
I think that it’s easy for someone in my position to maybe be associated with an organization because they feel it would be great, they can contribute dollar-wise or… None of that is wrong. I think for me, I’ve been wanting something that I felt like I could contribute most of my time to.
She noted that even though she loves her career, sometimes she feels selfish. When the E! interviewer mentioned an Instagram image of Gomez texting “you’re beautiful” in Russian, Gomez responded that even thinking about that made her want to cry. Many people don’t want to talk about human trafficking, she said, but she wants trafficked women to be seen, to know they are beautiful, and to have their stories heard. Gomez did not specify exactly what she is doing with A21, just that it was a volunteer position.
Ann and Selena in Greece
The superstar’s volunteer work was recently brought to the limelight again with a new blog post from Christian author Ann Voskamp, who described hearing from A21 founder Christine Caine along with Gomez last August in Greece. At that time, Caine elaborated on the atrocities that human trafficking victims suffer. These include being smuggled in shipping containers and violated in “breaking rooms.” According to Voskamp, breaking rooms are rooms where girls are prepared for the sex trade by having their “sense of will and value and dignity…systematically broken.”
The group also walked through the red light district in the city of Thessaloniki, where they witnessed a woman being purchased for $6. When told that the city’s mayor is proud of the red light streets, Gomez apparently responded, “And does he have daughters?”
Thessaloniki, Greece, is one of 14 locations A21 has in 12 countries across the globe. Describing themselves as the “new abolitionists,” the organization’s members seek to eradicate modern-day slavery through a strategy they summarize as “reach, rescue, restore.” That is, they reach and educate people in order to prevent slavery from happening, they rescue those who are already enslaved, and they work to restore those who have been set free.
Based on her Instagram response when the Elle interview came out, Gomez was apparently not happy with how the magazine presented her words, although she did not specify what she was upset about or if it had anything to do with her internship. But she is clearly passionate about her work with A21 and said in a post that that work was one of the reasons she spoke to Elle in the first place.
“Human trafficking is very, very serious to me,” Gomez said in her interview with E!. She continued:
It’s not something happening a million miles away. It’s actually happening here, and I would love to do everything I can, along with one of my heroes, Christine, to just be a part of it and learn, so I am honored to be a part of it. She’s incredible, and the organization is great.