Victims' Stories

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Report

The victims’ testimonies included in this Report are meant to be illustrative and to characterize the many forms of trafficking and the wide variety of places in which they occur. They do not reflect all forms of human trafficking and could take place almost anywhere in the world. Many of the victims’ names have been changed in this Report. Most photographs are not images of confirmed trafficking victims. They illustrate the myriad forms of exploitation that comprise human trafficking and the variety of situations in which trafficking victims are found.

Vietnam | China

When Ping was 12 years old, an acquaintance offered her and a friend jobs in a different city in Vietnam. Ping and her friend accepted the offer. The recruiter took them to a local bus station and placed them on a bus with their “caretaker.” When they disembarked, the caretaker revealed they were in China and had been sold into prostitution with 20 other girls. When one of the girls refused to do as she was told, the owners beat her severely. Ping suffered in the brothel for almost a year before authorities raided the establishment, rescued the girls, and returned them to Vietnam. Although Ping still suffers from headaches and poor vision—including moments of blindness—as a result of her exploitation, she is training for a career in hairdressing.

Hungary | United States

Michael was looking for jobs on the internet when he met Lorant, who offered him the chance to earn a lot of money working as a male escort in the United States. Michael and several other men accepted the offer, left Hungary, and traveled to Florida, where Lorant instead forced them into prostitution for 18-20 hours each day without pay. Lorant forced eight men to stay in a one-bedroom apartment, confiscated their identity documents, and threatened to kill them if they asked to leave. Police discovered the trafficking scheme after neighbors reported unusual behavior outside the men’s living quarters. Lorant was convicted of human trafficking and racketeering and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

France

When Adelaide and Paul hit hard times, Paul suggested his wife consider prostitution for a year or two to supplement their income. Adelaide agreed, but when she wanted to quit, Paul forced her to continue. He took away her keys and cell phone, and would not let her leave the house or care for their son. He listed her on four escort websites, controlled what she wore and ate, and collected all the money she earned. Paul used psychological coercion and threatened Adelaide to keep her in prostitution; when she threatened to leave, he vowed he would find her. Paul was finally arrested and awaits trial, where he faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment if convicted.

Nigeria | United Kingdom

When a British-Nigerian couple offered to take Paul, 14 years old, from Nigeria to the UK, enroll him in school, and pay him to perform housework, he accepted. Once in Britain, however, the family changed his name and added him to their family passport as an adopted son. They forced him to clean their house for as many as 17 hours each day for no pay and did not allow him to go to school. They took his passport, set up cameras to monitor his movements, and limited his contact with the outside world. Paul tried several times to escape; once he contacted the police, who told him they did not handle family matters. Eight years after that, Paul heard a radio report about modern slavery and bravely reached out to an NGO. The NGO helped, and the couple was arrested a few months later after having exploited Paul for 24 years. They each received 10-year sentences, six years for servitude and four for other crimes.

Guatemala | Belize

When Janine was 13 years old, she met a woman in Guatemala who promised her a well-paying babysitting job in Belize, where the woman lived. Janine accepted and was willingly smuggled from Guatemala to Belize. Instead of a babysitting job, the woman coerced Janine to work at a bar in a small village, and also subjected her to sex trafficking. Janine was never paid and was threatened with detention for having entered the country illegally. Janine was also afraid of a complicit law enforcement official who sexually exploited her. Janine escaped a year later and received assistance from local villagers and other law enforcement officials.

Ghana

When Osei was only 6 years old, his parents gave him to a fishing master who promised to provide Osei with a fishing apprenticeship, education, and a job. This was a lie. Instead, he forced Osei and other children to work on a fishing boat for many hours each day in harsh conditions. The master also forced other children into domestic servitude near the lake. None of these children were allowed to go to school. They were not apprentices—they were forced laborers. Government officials and an NGO rescued the children, and they currently reside at a care center where they receive education, shelter, counseling, and other trafficking-specific services to help them heal and take steps to prepare for their futures.

Syria | Lebanon

Recruiters came to Angela’s town in Syria offering paid work in restaurants or hotels in Lebanon, and Angela accepted the opportunity to leave her war-torn country. Once in Lebanon, she was subjected to sex trafficking along with more than 70 other women and girls, many of whom were also Syrian. The traffickers locked the girls in hotels and barred their windows. They subjected the women to sex trafficking for more than two months, sometimes forcing them to see 20 clients each day. The traffickers also raped and tortured the girls into submission. One day Angela and three others took advantage of a momentary lapse in security and escaped. They boarded a bus and confided in the driver. He reported the incident to the police, who raided the premises, helped release the other victims, and arrested 18 suspected traffickers. Authorities referred 35 of the victims to a women’s shelter for assistance, while the others chose to return home.

United States

Nina ran away from home at age 14. She met a woman who put her up in a hotel room and brought her “clients.” For the next 13 years, Nina had 20 different pimps who advertised her for sex on the internet and abused her verbally and physically. By the time she was finally referred to victim services, Nina had been convicted of 52 offenses, mostly prostitution—her first conviction at age 16—and spent time in both juvenile hall and jail.

India

A recruiter came to Gina’s rural village and told her mother he had a good job for Gina in Delhi that would earn her family a lot of money. Her mother let her go with the recruiter, but when they arrived in Delhi, Gina was sold into domestic servitude. She worked almost 20 hours each day for several years cooking meals, cleaning, providing childcare, and even massaging her employers’ legs before she was allowed to sleep. After several years, Gina escaped and returned to her family.

Bangladesh | Thailand | Malaysia

Maruf, striving for financial independence, and 200 others accepted an offer to be smuggled by boat to Malaysia for well-paid work. The agent promised food and water during the journey and said the men could repay the cost with their future wages. The agent lied; the crew rationed food and water, beat those who asked for more, and took the passengers to a Thai smuggling camp. After smugglers forced his father to pay a ransom, Maruf was released and brought to Malaysia. Maruf found work on a palm oil plantation through a contracting company but was again deceived. The contracting company confiscated the workers’ passports, and Maruf worked every day without pay as his contractor withheld his wages to pay back recruitment fees. Maruf was in the country illegally and feared arrest if he reported the abuse, so he continued to work and hoped to be paid eventually.

Canada

Holly, 13 years old, didn’t recognize Emilie on Facebook, but seeing they had mutual friends, accepted her friend request. Holly and Emilie chatted and quickly became online friends. One day Emilie told Holly that her boyfriend had found them both jobs that would make them a lot of money. Emilie asked Holly to come to her apartment that weekend. When Holly arrived, Emilie, her boyfriend, and another man told Holly she had to have sex with men for money. When Holly refused, they threatened to hurt her. They posted photos of Holly on an escort website and took her to different cities around Canada to have sex with paying clients. One day, when Emilie’s boyfriend left the room, Holly fled and received help from a passerby. All three perpetrators have been charged with numerous crimes, including sex trafficking, and await trial.

Uganda | United Arab Emirates

When Sanyu’s friend moved from Uganda to UAE, she told Sanyu she had found her a job that would even cover her travel expenses. Sanyu agreed to join her friend. Only a few days after arriving in Dubai, her friend disappeared and Sanyu’s situation changed drastically. A woman came to Sanyu’s house and demanded Sanyu repay her for covering her travel expenses. The woman explained Sanyu would need to sell herself for sex. When Sanyu resisted, the traffickers tortured her, denied her food, and made her sleep outside for three weeks. She was trapped in a house with 14 other girls from Uganda and forced to have sex for money. Sanyu and two other girls escaped and returned to Uganda.

Burma | Thailand

Shindy believed she was leaving Burma for a well-paying job at a Thai seafood factory. She owed a 12,000 baht ($342) recruitment fee, but believed she could pay it back earning the Thai minimum wage of 300 baht ($8.50) per day. After arriving; however, the middleman said Shindy owed him 20,000 baht and would only earn 200 baht per day. She and approximately 40 other Burmese laborers worked 18 hours each day and had to spend almost all of their earnings to buy overpriced food from the on-site store. One worker escaped and told an NGO about Shindy and the other workers trapped at the factory. The NGO and Thai authorities returned to the factory to free the workers and their families, some of whom had been captive for three years.