What you probably know about Ricky Martin: the Puerto Rican sang Livin’ La Vida Loca, has won armfuls of Grammy Awards, and is father to twins Matteo and Valentino.
What you may not know: a trip to India a decade ago found him saving three young girls from human trafficking, spurring him to support the fight against modern-day slavery.
Martin doesn’t sugar-coat the evils of trafficking. “The virginity of girls is being sold for thousands,” he told the gathered glitterati of Dubai at the Global Gift Gala fundraising event on Saturday night, as they noshed on fillet steak and peanut parfait. “Our children are being raped.”
The singer was on stage to be honoured by his close friend, actress Eva Longoria, for his humanitarian work. “I know him for his amazing work,” said Longoria. “You can stay with him for just five minutes and feel his passion — and compassion.”
“For many years, I thought I would be able to change the world,” Martin told tabloid! ahead of the event. “I realised that’s impossible. So we’ve been focusing on saving one person at a time. And it’s working. It’s giving me hope.”
The singer, who is now a judge on The Voice Australia, started his own foundation to further his cause. “Unfortunately we are still dealing with slavery. Human trafficking was something I knew existed 10 years ago, and ever since I have not been able to be quiet about it, because we are allowing it to happen, especially with children. I’m here to talk on their behalf and I will look for any excuse to give some light to this global issue.”