Human Traffic Watch

Child Trafficking Victim Finds Peace Teaching Rikers Inmates Yoga Updated

In Human Trafficking on March 17, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Every Monday, Anneke Lucas passes through a giant gated door at Rikers Island and saunters down a sanitized hallway lined with guards. She shields her eyes as she passes the open, all-male showers and ushers a handful of inmates into a room.

She then encourages them to zone out all the chaos, the noise and the stress that’s part of life in the jail.

As Lucas teaches yoga to the inmates, speaking above the racket from the adjoining 100-cot dorm, she finds peace not only in the calm it brings them, but also in the calm it brings about in herself.

“The prison work is very healing to me. It gives me purpose in my life to be able to share things that helped me with the chaos, the prisons of my own mind,” said Lucas, 49.

“It connected with me the best possible way to be with people who’ve been damaged.”

The Belgian native — who has worked with prisoners at Rikers Island, Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center and Bayview Correctional Facility — said she has used yoga over the past 20 years to transcend her own horrifying youth.

Starting when she was 5 years old, Lucas was the victim of child trafficking in a network that infamous child killer Marc Dutroux later worked in the 1990s, she said.

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