Kiwis to rescue of those sold to sex slavery
As a child, Daniel Walker wanted to be a superhero.
Today the Christchurch cop is the founder of NVader, a new faith-based organisation formed to combat sex trafficking.
The New Zealand organisation will become operational next month, helping to rescue women and children sold into overseas brothels, and working with local officials to bring the traffickers to justice.
Walker, who uses a pseudonym for legal and security reasons, helped to rescue hundreds of women and children during a four-year stint as an investigator for two human rights organisations.
Most of his work was in developing countries blighted by poverty and corruption - "all the usual problems" - that make sex trafficking viable for criminals.
Wearing covert recording devices, Walker would visit brothels to document a "transaction", taking down as much information as possible, and asking the workers about their experiences when they were meant to be having sex.
The groups he worked with secured the first sex trafficking convictions in several countries.
"We had the GPS co-ordinates of the brothel and the serial numbers of banknotes, it was really damning, compelling evidence."
But the work took its toll. Often on his own, with little in the way of debriefing, Walker started to become too emotionally involved. "I started to believe toxic things, like if I wasn't successful [on a mission], they were never going to be rescued."
Shortly after his return to New Zealand, his marriage broke up, his work a major factor.
Walker then wrote a book, God in a Brothel, detailing the successes and failures of his time overseas.
"It was cathartic, and in that sense, I felt able to take a bit of weight off."
Now he is fighting the traffickers again with his own group, and says NVader, which includes professionals from around New Zealand, will work with other human rights groups to rescue victims and bring the traffickers to justice.
He says New Zealanders' humility makes them particularly well-suited to working with foreign officials and persuading them to take action.
"As Kiwis, we're very culturally aware. We're self-effacing and humble, so we don't go into other countries in a dictatorial way."
Walker says sex trafficking will overtake drugs as the top organised crime earner within a decade.
"Unlike drugs, which you sell once and they're gone, a little girl, from the age she's able to be molested for profit, can be sold many times a day for years."
With NVader, he hopes to provide justice for those who would not obtain it themselves.
"The youngest girl I carried out of a brothel was five. It's amazing to know that we can make that kind of difference in people's lives."
Sunday Star Times