Real Stories

These are only part of the lives of real girls; stories of bodies being bought and sold, and the girls who own them neglected and punished.

The Slave Across the Street
To the men who used me night after night, I was not a human being. As they performed the most intimate act a man and a woman engage in, I was only a dollar value. A commodity. To know this in my formative teenage years, during the period when a woman defines her worth and identity, proved devastating. How does a child begin to process this? To feel and hear that so many, many men didn't care about me at all, in fact they celebrated my humiliation, degradation and pain, that was a critical wound to my soul. It was a bitter view of inhumanity to an idealistic teenager.

This awareness leads a victim of human trafficking to lose all love, even for themselves. When others don't value or love you, it becomes difficult to love yourself. There is no healthy example. Shame, embarrassment, and guilt fill the vacuum where love should thrive.

... On that night the room smelled of sex, smoke, and musky incense when an older, attractive, olive skinned man entered. He looked upon me, splayed naked on the bed, my hair rumpled, my young body wet and exhausted from being mounted by so many men. Rarely did anyone look me in the eyes but this man did and I saw admiration and sadness reflected there.

"What is your name?" he asked in a rough accent. Knowing I would be punished, I didn't dare say a word. The kind-eyed man seemed out of place among these other brutes.

He turned to Nick. "What is her name?" Nick looked at him with disgust. "What does it matter? She has no name."

His words struck my heart. I turned my head to the side as tears rolled down my cheek. "Never mind," I heard the man say. "I have changed my mind. The deal is off."

I turned to watch the dignified man walk regally out of the room. I felt Nick's anger and his repulsion of the man who refused his prize.

"Get up and get dressed," he spat. "You're no good to me anymore tonight. Get out of here. I will tell Daniel to take you home now. And this better not ever happen again! You are costing me money!" While I was grateful that I didn't have to endure any more that night, all I could think of was that this kind man hadn't helped me escape. I was worth nothing. I didn't matter. I had no name.   [read more]

Girls Like Us
"Hey, my name's Rachel and I'm from a program called GEMS that works with teenage girls who've been in the life, and I'm just here to see how we can support and help you. I know you've had a pretty rough day, how are you doing tonight?" Pause. Silence. Danielle sits eyeing me warily, with her arms folded tightly across her chest. "Guess they didn't tell you I was coming, huh?" I roll my eyes at the door. Cheap trick, bond against the system when all else fails. Silence. "I'm just here to talk to you a little bit and see if there's anything we can do. I'm not from the cops or child welfare or anything like that. What you tell me will be confidential." Silence. If she is at all relieved that I'm not a cop, she doesn't show it.

"You know, the reason I started GEMS is cos I used to be in the life, too, so I wanted to have a place for girls who'd been through the same thing."

Silence. That admission normally at least provoked a question: "Really, miss? How old was you?" "What track you worked?" "You had a daddy?" But nothing, not even a raised eyebrow or a show of interest. "Can you tell me what brought you here today?" Silence. This is a little tougher than I'd expected or, to be honest, wanted, particularly at the end of a long week. A lot of girls I encountered in these situations started chatting right away and it was harder getting them to be quiet.

"So I know that your name's Danielle. Can I ask how old you are?" I'd already been told over the phone by the intake worker that she is fourteen and it is a close-ended question (bad move in the counseling process), but I'm not really getting anywhere so I figure that this will at least get her to respond. She breaks her silence. "Eleven."

I'm so mentally prepared for a different answer that it takes a moment to register. Double take. "I'm sorry, how old?"

"Eleven."

"Really?" I say, with far too much incredulity in my voice, and, I'm sure, on my face. Wow ... dumb response. She looks at me like I'm a little dense and just nods. I wonder if perhaps she is lying. Lots of girls lied about their age in order to be older but I'd never met anyone who'd lied to be younger. While it probably isn't hard to believe that one of the staff had erroneous information, I really don't want to believe what she is telling me. Fourteen was bad enough, but eleven?   [read more]

SOLD
I'm wiping the makeup off my face when the dark-skinned girl comes in. "What do you think you're doing?" she says.

"I'm going home."

Her tear-shaped eyes grow dark.

"There is a mistake," I tell her. "I'm here to work as a maid for a rich lady."

"Is that what you were told?"

Then Mumtaz arrives at the door, huffing, her mango face pink with anger.

"What do you think you're doing?" she says.

"Leaving," I say. "I'm going home."

Mumtaz laughs. "Home?" she says. "And how would you get there?"

I don't know.

"Do you know the way home?" she says.
"Do you have money for the train?
Do you speak the language here?
Do you even have any idea where you are?"

My heart is pounding like the drumming of a monsoon rain, and my shoulders are shaking as if I had a great chill.

"You ignorant hill girl," she says. "You don't know anything. Do you?"

I wrap my arms around myself and grip with all my might.
But the trembling will not stop.

"Well, then," Mumtaz says, pulling her record book out from her waistcloth. "Let me explain it to you."

"You belong to me," she says. "And I paid a pretty sum for you, too."
She opens to a page in her book and points to the notation for 10,000 rupees.

"You will take men to your room," she says. "And do whatever they ask of you. You will work here, like the other girls, until your debt is paid off."  [read more]

*SOLD is a fictional narrative based on the real stories of girls trafficked from Nepal to India's brothels.