"The victims of modern slavery have many faces. They are men and women, adults and children. Yet, all are denied basic human dignity and freedom... All too often suffering from horrible physical and sexual abuse, it is hard for them to imagine that there might be a place of refuge." U.S. President Barack Obama, January 4, 2010


To provide you with some insight into the lives of trafficking victims, we'll be telling you some stories - stories of suffering and abuse, but also of rescue, hope and life.

Some of the victims' testimonies are meant to be representative - they could take place anywhere in the world.

Anna’s story

Anna’s trafficker kept her in submission through physical abuse – beating her, raping her, and slicing her with knives. He abducted her from Albania and took her to a Western European country, where she was forced into prostitution for about 5 months. He then took her to a second Western European country, where she told border authorities she was travelling on a falsified passport in hopes of getting help. The police sent her to a refugee camp where two Albanian social workers released her back to her trafficker. During more than 4 years of subsequent forced prostitution in the second destination, Anna was made to undergo four abortions.

When her trafficker was deported to Albania, 5 years after her initial abduction, Anna went to police with information about the trafficking ring. 2 days later, she too was deported to Albania, where the trafficker continued his threats and abuse. Anna pursued prosecution of her trafficker in Albania, but he remains free. She has been denied residency and assistance from several Western European countries, including the ones in which she was exploited. She was able to resettle in the United States where she is continuing her rehabilitation and studying to become a nurse.

[Source: Trafficking in Person's Report, June 2010]

Mary’s story

Mary left her home in East Africa determined to earn money for her family. But from her second day of work as a maid in a private house in the United Arab Emirates, she was beaten daily. “If she didn’t beat me in the day, she would beat me at night,” Mary says of her employer. The beatings continued for two years. Once, Mary’s employer threw boiling water on her and continued to beat her after she collapsed in pain. She was denied medical attention. Her clothing stuck to her wounds. Her employer ordered Mary to have sex with another maid on video. When Mary refused, the woman put a hot iron on her neck and threatened her with more beatings. After 2 years, a doctor noted wounds, scars, and blisters all over Mary’s body.

[Source: Trafficking in Person's Report, June 2010]

Khansee’s story

At 17, Khansee left his village in southern Laos to find work in a border town. He had very little education, could barely read or write, and was supporting his mother and grandmother. Another young man told Khansee he could earn $170 a month working at a garment factory in Thailand. Khansee trusted him because he was a fellow Lao, but he never made it to the garment factory. They crossed the river at night and boarded a van that took them to the coast of Thailand.

When Khansee stepped out of the van, he was immediately led onto a fishing trawler under the watchful eyes of men armed with guns. For two years, Khansee worked day and night, heaving nets of fish without a rest or break. He ate and slept little on a crowded deck with 40 other men. He was beaten on a regular basis. Once, Khansee watched his traffickers beat a fellow worker until the man was unconscious. After 2 years of forced servitude, Khansee managed to escape when the boat was docked. He ran for days through the jungle, until he reached the home of a woman who took him in, fed him, and gave him money for a taxi to the Lao Embassy in Bangkok. With NGO and embassy assistance, Khansee made it back to his village alive.

[Source: Trafficking in Person's Report, June 2010]

Manna’s story

When 14-year-old Manna ran away from her abusive home in South Asia, she met a woman who offered her job selling fabric. She accepted the position, and the woman provided her a place to sleep for the night. When Manna awoke in the morning, the woman was gone, and Manna discovered that she was in a brothel. Manna attempted to refuse the first three men who had paid to rape her. She was physically assaulted by the brothel keepers until she lacked the strength to resist. For the next two years, she was held in the brothel and raped by customers for the profit of the brothel owners. She was freed when IJM investigators discovered her captivity and alerted local authorities, working with them to release her and three other young girls from the brothel. The brothel owners each received five-year sentences.

[Source: International Justice Mission (IJM)]