How to Put a Stop to Sex Slavery for Good

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
The U.S.’s resources to help survivors of modern slavery are woefully short term.
If and when a victim of modern slavery is finally free, the long and difficult struggle to lead a healthy, productive life is just beginning. Unfortunately, there is no magic cure for the scars of torture or terror; no quick fixes for the effects of trauma and oppression. And yet, America’s standard approach to trafficking victims is very short term.

I know how long it takes to recover from being enslaved, because I was trafficked myself. At 17 years old, I left Indonesia believing I would go to America, work as a nanny and earn $150 per month.

My trafficker arranged my passport, visa and airline ticket before I left, then took my documents when I arrived. I was forced to work 18 or more hours every day in a home where I endured frequent physical and verbal abuse. I did not speak English, had no money, and believed I would be arrested if I left the home.

After three terrifying years, I found the courage to alert a neighbor. She eventually arranged my escape, and took me to the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), an organization I now work for that helps trafficking victims rebuild their lives.

That was more than 15 years ago, and I am experienced enough to know how fortunate I was to encounter CAST, one of only a few California organizations that offers the long-term support trafficking victims need. They gave me shelter for two years, taught me English and provided job training that would help me find employment outside the only “industry” in which I had experience.

In my work as an advocate I often meet or hear heartbreaking stories about trafficking survivors who do not have access to this scope of basic but vital services.

Susana was rescued from her trafficking situation then placed in a domestic violence shelter. She gained little in terms of emotional support, because the therapy she received was developed for a very different kind of victim. She was provided a small stipend for food, and forced to leave when she reached the shelter’s three-month limit.

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Source: The Daily Beast | Ima Matul

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