These are victims’ stories from the Trafficking in Persons Report 2012, Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, US Department of State.
“The victims’ testimonies included in this Report are meant to be illustrative only and do not reflect all forms of trafficking that occur… They illustrate the many forms of trafficking and the wide variety of places in which they occur. Many of the victims’ names have been changed in this Report…
MEXICO – UNITED STATES
Maria Elena was 13 years old when a family acquaintance told her she could make ten times as much money waiting tables in the United States than she could in her small village. She and several other girls were driven across the border, and then continued the rest of the way on foot. They traveled four days and nights through the desert, making their way into Texas, then crossing east toward Florida. Finally, Maria Elena and the other girls arrived at their destination, a rundown trailer where they were forced into prostitution. Maria Elena was gang-raped and locked in the trailer until she agreed to do what she was told. She lived under 24-hour watch and was forced to have sex with up to 30 men a day. When she got pregnant, she was forced to have an abortion and sent back to work the next day. Maria Elena finally made her escape only to be arrested along with her traffickers.
Amina left her home in Bangladesh to take a job in Lebanon as a maid. Despite the promise of opportunity, she found herself exploited at the hands of an abusive employer. She was tortured, molested, and confined to the house for three months. “I was hardly given any food,” she later said. “In solitary confinement in a room, I had no idea what Lebanon looked like.” Amina managed to escape and was repatriated at the expense of the recruitment agency that had sent her abroad. She still suffers pain from injuries to her eyes sustained at the hands of her employer, but because the broker confiscated her passport and job contract, she cannot file a complaint with the authorities or receive compensation.
Gayan, a 15-year-old boy, was a school dropout when he was recruited by a broker who promised him a good job in the Jharsuguda district. Instead, Gayan, along with other boys, was confined to a factory to work, given little food, severely beaten, branded, burned with cigarettes, and allowed only a few hours’ sleep each night. It was not until Gayan returned home a year later that his parents learned what he had endured. “[O]nly now have we realized that he was threatened…the owners were always present while he was talking on the phone [to us],” they said. After Gayan’s parents complained to officials, the three traffickers responsible were arrested. The police have also initiated rescue efforts for the other boys held in forced labor and debt bondage in the same facility.
ROMANIA – UK
Uta was seven years old when she was sent from Romania to work as a domestic servant in the United Kingdom. Her family thought this was an opportunity to get Uta away from poverty, but the Romanian couple who recruited her physically and verbally abused her daily and forced her to sleep on the floor. The couple also enslaved and raped another victim, Razvan, a 53-year-old Romanian man. After being severely beaten and seeing the way the couple treated Uta, Razvan escaped and reported the offenses to the police. When the police rescued Uta she was dressed in filthy clothes, had scabs covering her head, and her teeth were so rotten they had to be removed. She had never been to school and could not even count to ten in her own language. The Romanian couple was found guilty of trafficking and was sentenced to a maximum of 14 years in prison.
When Ashley was 12-years-old she got into a fight with her mother and ran away from home. She ended up staying with her friend’s older brother at his house and intended to go home the next day, but when she tried to leave he told her that he was a pimp and that she was now his property. He locked her in a room, beat her daily, and advertised her for sex on websites. Once, she looked out a window and saw her mother on the street, crying and posting flyers with Ashley’s photo. When Ashley tried to shout her mother’s name from the window her pimp grabbed her by the hair and yanked her back, threatening “If you shout, I’ll kill you.” Ashley eventually escaped her confinement and is now at a treatment center for girls who have been sexually trafficked in New York.