Two stories I heard recently about human trafficking both sicken me and they make me want to do MORE to help those who are trapped in Kazakhstan. The first is about a woman I know named Candy (fictitious name) and her sister who are from Guatemala. Apparently, Candy’s sister was the oldest of about ten children and she had wanted to be a Catholic nun. So were her future, hopeful plans until her mother asked her to go to the nearby store to buy some bread. Candy’s sister never returned home.
When too much time had passed, the mother asked the shopkeeper if her daughter had made it to the store and apparently she did. However, on the way home, a neighbor approached the young girl and asked if she was thirsty. She said yes and drank what he offered that had some kind of drug in it to make her go unconscious. For the first week she was hidden under some banana leaves while police looked throughout the neighborhood for her. The trapped girl was fearful that if she yelled out and the police found her, they would harm her family.
The mother was pregnant at the time and when the stress of trying to find her oldest daughter failed, she had a miscarriage. She wanted to burn down the house of the neighbor who took her daughter somewhere. She went missing for ten years. When Candy’s sister came back, she did not talk about what she had been through. She had a messed up life after that.
When Candy was about 16 years old her mother more or less expected her to leave the house because there were so many other children to feed. The long and short of it is that Candy became a house slave to someone in Guatemala and then she ended up in California. I need to find out from Candy more about her story, she felt it easier talking about her sister than telling her own story.
Another person I met recently was Juanita (again not her real name and she is not Hispanic). She was from San Diego area and somehow she avoided the actual gory details but I could piece it together. Her mother had re-married and her stepfather was involved in some kind of ring of trafficking of children in the early 1960s. At age 7 the nightmare for Juanita started, she had a broken pelvis. (how do you suppose THAT happened?) Juanita said that a doctor, friend of her stepfather was a part of this ring. He took care of her and gave an excuse to the mother about what had happened making it sound very clinical. Juanita did not trust lawyers, policemen, doctors, any of the professionals because they were the clients in this sordid and surreal situation.
Juanita and her mother had househelp, a Hispanic woman who knew what was going on. Her stepfather would ask her to bring her children over to play but she never did. In fact, she encouraged Juanita to sleep with her in her bed because she knew what Juanita was going through at night. Why her own mother never knew or intervened to help Juanita, perhaps the stepfather used the same fear and intimidation tactics with his wife. Juanita said that they would go out to the desert to bury children that didn’t obey and this was yet another form of keeping children in line. They used torture as well. I won’t go into that but it left no marks that could be used as evidence but was extremely painful. It made them not able to run away.
In Juanita’s case, she told her mother she was leaving home at age 16. She did not tell her why but this was after nine years of torture that she had gone through. Juanita had had enough. Apparently during this period of sexual abuse, the stepfather up and moved and left everything behind. They had eight hours to leave San Diego and they ended up in Colorado. They left EVERYTHING behind, the house, their clothes, it was urgent to obey him. Juanita’s step-father did not operate the same way he had with all the wheelers and dealers in California but he was still into pornography. Juanita told me that her mother divorced this maniacal man a year after Juanita left home. So maybe her mother did suspect something was going on.
Sixteen years ago Juanita had perhaps emotionally healed enough and finally went to the FBI to tell her story about what had happened to her in the 1960s. Of course they were interested but the statute of limitations had run out in this case. However, it goes to show that what was going on in the 1960s is probably 100 times worse now with trafficked victims in the U.S. and all over the world. I was reminded of the movie “The Changling” which happened also in California back in the 1930s. So, sex trafficking is not something that is new but a very old evil.
Juanita married and had several sons. She and her husband also took in foster children through Catholic services in their home. Juanita’s antennas would go up and red flags would wave when she saw certain signs in young children she came in contact with. She knows all the alerts because she went through much of it herself. The basic thing is that they don’t trust anyone, they have been lied to and manipulated to believe they are not worthy. Their child innocence has been stripped from them.
This same crime is happening in Kazakhstan…what can be done to warn the innocent victims who are living in poverty that the person who is trying to convince and persuade them to follow them is lying?