Monday, December 7, 2015

The Faces of Sex Trafficking

As we've been talking with people about our upcoming anti-trafficking trip to SE Asia, there have been questions about what trafficking looks like and what it will be like in Thailand and Cambodia. Inspired by a friend's poem about the world's forgotten girls, I wanted to share some fictional (but realistic) trafficking scenarios. Many of the details of these fictional stories come from the lives of real girls from all over the world.


She's 7 years old. Living in Cambodia. Sold by her parents to provide a better lifestyle for them—a tv, schooling for her brothers. Sold again and again while her father sits playing checkers and smoking with his friends.

She's 11 years old. Living in Minneapolis. Grew up in the system, always abused, never loved. Runs away from home and has nowhere to go. It's winter and she won't last long on the streets. A man offers shelter and food. But at a cost. She has nowhere else to turn.

She's 13 years old. Living in Thailand. Moves to the big city to provide for her family in the village. Told she will only have to dance. It's always more than dancing. But this is what she must do to honor her family.

She's 14 years old. Living in the Bronx. Comes from a line of prostitutes. It's all she's seen, all she knows. Dad's out of the picture, mom's blacked out. The fridge is empty. She knows a fast way to make a buck. Once she's in, there's no getting out.

She's 16 years old. Living in Romania. An orphan, forgotten, ignored. Until him. He loves her, he says. He tells her of a modeling job. It will make her famous. She dares to hope. But she finds out all too quickly that this isn't modeling. He owns her. He who loved her. He who gave her hope.

She's 19 years old. Living in rural Wisconsin. Lower class and always in need. Used by her uncle, her neighbor, her boyfriends. Seeking a way out. She hears of a friend who made it big in Vegas. Why not get paid for something that was always taken? Once she realizes she's trapped, it's too late.

She's vulnerable. She's looking for love. She's doing what she thinks she needs to. She's abused. She's tricked. She's a victim. Whether the chains are physical or not, they are there. The fear, the threats, the poverty, the psychological abuse, they're real. They hold her there. She may have "chosen" this life, but did she really have a choice?

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