At just 15, Sophea* was sold into sexual slavery and forced to take drugs that made her an addict. It was a year before she found a means of escape.
Her fiance's mother told her there was a great job that paid 3,000 baht (around A$120) a month, so Sophea agreed to try it out. Soon after, she was taken to the Thai border and delivered straight into the waiting clutches of brothel owners. So began Sophea's year of living hell.
Finding herself dumped and alone in a tiny, filthy room, Sophea realised she had been betrayed. But worse was yet to come.
She was forced to have sex with customers repeatedly or be beaten. Instead of being paid she was forced to take drugs, gradually becoming addicted. The torment she suffered is barely imaginable.
Sophea believed that the woman who had left her would eventually come to her rescue. She waited a whole year. No-one came. One day, she plucked up the courage to escape and called her grandmother who then notified the police.
On the road to recovery
Now at a World Vision-assisted shelter in Cambodia, Sophea finally feels safe. Day by day, she is overcoming her addiction. She is also learning to read and write and dreams of becoming a beauty therapist one day.
She still believes her fiance is innocent: "He can't have known about this, or he would have come to get me," she says sadly.
For children like Sophea, protection and rehabilitation is essential.
You can help too
There are two powerful ways in which you can help stop children being sold into bonded labour.
Don't Trade Lives campaigns for greater consistency across the anti-trafficking policies of countries in the Asia Pacific region. By joining Don't Trade Lives, you can find out more about the tragic trade in human lives and lend your support to the campaign. There are a great number of things you can do and learn about - including how to become a more responsible consumer, in order to create a real and meaningful demand for ethically produced goods.
Through Child Rescue
, you can help vulnerable children who have been trafficked and exploited to rebuild their lives. By supporting Child Rescue
, you’ll be helping prevent exploitation and forced labour and provide safe accommodation,rehabilitation, education and ongoing support for children who have been abused and exploited. *Note:
Names have been changed.
This story was originally published on 25 January 2012