Breaking free : true stories of girls who escaped modern slavery

From  Andrea Kalinowski
Author:  Abby Sher
Title:   Breaking free : true stories of girls who escaped modern slavery  
I know that human trafficking exists, but knowing it exists and reading about the truly harrowing life it is are vastly different. I recently read Breaking Free: true stories of girls who escaped modern slavery by Abby Sher. The first and last stories were tearjerkers in their own right.  However, the middle story, the one of the girl who is sexually abused by her own father and then further prostituted and trafficked until she is in college and even then the trafficking continues, is especially moving.  It is during her college years that she finally manages to break free of the tyranny and trafficking. This story was the most heart-wrenching to me because family is supposed to have your back. They are meant to support you in your endeavors and applaud your successes and commiserate over your sorrows, not sell you night after night. I realize this is not an isolated incident, that all around the world, people are being abused by family members, beaten, abused, and trafficked, but something about this girl’s experiences made it so vivid for me. I am just starting another book referenced in Breaking Free entitled Half the Sky: turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This second book is reinforcing the idea of human trafficking as a global problem. Part of the problem is the value placed on women, which is to say little or none. After reading these books, I am grateful I live in the United States even though bad things happen here too. Here, women have more of a chance at being treated with equality and value.

The road of lost innocence

From Jackie Cantwell
author: Mam, Somaly
The road of lost innocence
 This is the true story of a Cambodian woman who was sold into prostitution at the age of sixteen.  Somaly was abandoned by her birth parents when she was about five years old. A neighbor in her northeastern Cambodian village of Bou Sra took her in. She is Phnong., which is a tribe of mountain people. The poverty and primitivity she describes in her youth is almost beyond belief. She doesn’t know when she was born; she thinks it’s 1970 or 1971.  The Khmer Rouge regime of 1975-1979 was responsible for the deaths of about 20% of the population of Cambodia.  The Khmer seem to have also robbed the Cambodians of their culture and their spirit. Somaly describes with sickening detail her daily beatings and rapes.  The specifics are so shocking, I cannot describe them here. She doesn’t mention the word “torture”, but I believe she was tortured as well.  Her narrative doesn’t beg for us to pity her. She tells her story as an example of all the other girls sold into sexu  al slavery. She says that her experience was almost nothing (!) compared to the experience of those today. Virgins are especially prized ; girls of 5 or 6 years old are sold and raped repeatedly. The beatings today are even worse. She says that judges can’t be bribed in Cambodia; they’ve already been bought. The men who should be maintaining the law: the military, the police and the judges, are also customers of the brothels.  Even “humanitarian aid workers” use prostitutes! These sex traffickers make the mafia look like boy scouts.  She argues that the only way to stop it is for the international community to take notice and to bring the ringleaders to justice.   Today she runs an organization called AFESIP that rescues children from sexual slavery and provides housing, schooling and vocational training.  One would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by her account.