Innocence Lost

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Innocence Lost

Sexual trafficking is becoming more prominent in the sphere of common knowledge than it has ever been before, however, it does not even begin to touch the surface of the realities that accompany it. It is estimated that 1.2 million children and young people are exploited from global sex trade each year. Their childhoods have been ripped from them for the sake of twisted pleasure and will never be recovered. It is her story that has influenced my work.

I was first made aware of the truth about sexual trafficking by a young girl I had met through my mother she had been sold as part of the trade and only recently made her escape, she is now 17 years old and her story is only one of many. She has given me permission to share her ordeal, but for her sake I will omit her name and instead refer to her as Maria. Maria is originally from Mexico, her family is very poor and she has five younger brothers and sisters. Being the oldest she was forced to start working to help increase their household income. She didn’t mind the work, she wanted to help her family as best she could, and began to work by going to the fields and gathering vegetables for a local farmer. She was 11 years old. Needless to say this job did not pay very well at all, and so one day when a well dressed stranger showed up in their village offering jobs for the young unmarried girls, they were leaping at the opportunity. He said that he would give the family advance pay for their daughters and not to worry if they didn’t hear from their children for a while because their employers may not permit them to contact. The families naively believed and so for $200 their daughters were unknowingly sold into slavery of the worst kind. Though her life hadn’t been easy to begin with she had now entered into hell. She began to describe the events that took place afterwards, the hope that all the girls had, that they were helping their families to survive and would start a wonderful new life. The fancy gentlemen told them that they would be going to America to work for wealthy white families who would pay very well. They bought his lies hook, line, and sinker. They were smuggled across the border and taken to a shack where they were held for several days, with minimal food and water. They didn’t have a toilet and dug a hole in the corner to use as a latrine. When they asked the men who looked after them what they were waiting on and why they weren’t allowed to go outside, they were told that because they didn’t have the proper paperwork if they were caught they would never be able to work and their families would never receive any money. So they stayed put and continued to wait. They were finally taken one or two at a time out of the shack and none of them ever came back. Maria and a girl a little younger than herself were loaded into a car and driven for hours until they came to a house, in what she later learned was L.A., and taken into the house. A woman received them, exchanged what Maria now believes was payment, and the men left. The woman introduced herself simply as Senora, she told the girls that they belonged to her now and would work for her. They asked what she would like them to do; she just smiled and led them to a room that would become their prison for the next four years. Maria told me a few of the stories that surrounded her time there and to hear them would set your stomach in knots. She has no idea how many men she has had to service over the years, many of whom would come back week after week. There were no racial boundaries, the men were white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, and none of them cared that she was a child. Just as there were no racial discrepancies with the clients, there were no discrepancies with the girls either. The majority did come from Central and South America, but there were others who were from Africa, China, and anywhere in between. One of the things she particularly noticed was that, for some of the...
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