Many of our girls have been rescued at a very young age from the red-light district – before they were forced into sex slavery. Their mothers are the ones who are enslaved in brothels—they are the ones with horrific stories of abduction into the trade and of daily abuse thereafter.
This is true for Prema’s mom.
Her story starts when her childhood ended, when she was just 11 years old.
It happened one day after school, when she and a friend went to a roadside food vendor for a snack, as they did every day. These two girls had no idea that they had been targeted. Their snacks were laced with drugs. As they stumbled about, their predators watched and waited for them to collapse.
Three days later, the drugs Prema’s mom ingested wore off. She awoke a prisoner in a brothel. She endured the horrific torture and repeated sexual exploitation that constitutes the sick initiation of a new sex slave.
In time, Prema’s mom discovered that she had been relocated miles across India. She now lived in a large city with people who spoke a different language, held captive by cruel people. She had no hope of escape and no ability to figure out how to return home again if she tried. Her captors told her she had to work off her debt. Their threats, intimidation, and torture made it clear there was no way out. Her options were to stay and work . . . or try to leave and be killed.
In time, little Prema was born there in the red-light district. This new mom had no way of getting her newborn baby out of the darkness. Brothel owners had their eye on Prema from the day she was born. The men came regularly to apply pressure for the child’s life—first with monetary offers, then with coercion.
Prema’s mom was terrified for both their lives. She didn’t know who to trust or what to do.
As Our Own staff heard about this situation and connected with Prema’s mom, but her trust wasn’t easily won. It took many meetings to prove that we had Prema’s best interests in mind. Prema’s mom knew, however, that she had no option: Prema could have a life with us, or she could have a horrific existence enslaved in the red-light district.
Prema came into our family and received all the love, care, protection, education, and training that every child needs. Prema’s mom sees this and now connects us to other children in danger of being sold to the brothel owners. She is now an inside advocate for As Our Own.
Prema’s mom is an unlikely advocate for hope, considering all she’s endured since the day her childhood was stolen from her. But that’s what makes her witness all the more powerful.
Imagine having nowhere to send your children while you worked. There is no daycare available, and taking time off is not an option. You simply have to find a way to work with your children there with you, in your small, cell-like room.
That was the case for Sajala’s mom. She was forced to work, but didn’t have anywhere to take her 3-year-old. So little Sajala had to sleep under the bed while her mom worked.
Sajala’s mom is a sex slave. She worked in that very room while Sajala slept on the floor.
As horrible as this is, it’s a scenario all too common in India’s red-light district. Sex slaves do not have the luxury of childcare, nor are there separate living and working quarters. The children are simply there in the midst of this darkness.
And if children like Sajala remain in this environment, there is a 95 percent chance they will be enslaved there the rest of their lives as well.
Sajala’s mom held little hope for her daughter’s future.
When As Our Own discovered the desperation of Sajala’s situation, we immediately asked to rescue her from this environment. Over many meetings and with much labor, Sajala was finally rescued out of the red-light district and came to live with us.
Over the years, as Sajala has grown, so has her confidence and joy. She is secure in her place with us as part of our family. This assurance has helped her thrive both socially and academically—she has many friends and is at the top of her class in school.
This is a life she would have never known if she had stayed with her mother in the brothel.
Lives are being transformed like Sajala’s with support from our faithful partners. As you stand in the gap for the vulnerable of India, more children like Sajala can have a new life—with a future and a hope.
Imagine a little 3-year-old girl, orphaned and fending for herself . . . in a brothel.
Shanti lived in a brothel because her mother was enslaved there as a sex worker, having been sold to India from her home country of Nepal. And Shanti was left alone because her mother died from her work, and there was no one left to care for Shanti.
That’s how Shanti’s story begins.
But that’s not how her story ends. That’s because a pastor in the community who had access to the red-light district knew of Shanti’s difficulty. He rescued Shanti and placed her in our family.
Her life was redeemed from brothel darkness.
Shanti has been part of our family for a few decades now. She’s grown up to be a lovely young woman with a strong sense of her identity.
Although social stigma is common for those with a past like Shanti’s. Shanti is married to a loving man, neither one of them defined by their pasts. She and her husband have even started their own family.
Shanti’s story has been redeemed thanks to our partners who have stood in the gap for her and provided her story with a praiseworthy ending.
Predators are on the lookout for children in dire situations. They watch for families who battle ongoing poverty and illness and the difficulties that come with it. They offer hope for the children and income for the family. But they are schemers, looking to exploit children and gain wealth from the suffering of others.
Mya easily could have been a predator’s target. Poverty and illness make for easy prey.
Mya’s parents tried to eke out a living to provide for their family. Life was very difficult, and it only grew worse when Mya’s father died of AIDS within a year of her birth. Her mother was left with the full responsibility of providing for the family. There was no money, no food, no hope. All of them were hungry.
This is exactly the sort of scenario predators look for.
As Our Own met Mya’s mother years ago when she was pregnant with Mya. We were able to come alongside her after her husband died. Eventually, we took Mya into our care.
Over the years, Mya would visit with her mother and stay with her. After one visit in particular, however, we discovered the danger of such extended visits. Mya left us healthy; she returned a wisp of her former self.
We were frightened that she had contracted some awful illness. After medical examinations and lengthy discussions, we discovered that Mya wasn’t ill at all: She was simply starving. Mya’s mother had no food to offer her daughter for the entire visit. Such a scare has opened our eyes to the dangers of Mya returning home again.
Sadly, life for Mya’s mother never improved. Soon it became obvious that she too had contracted AIDS. After a long battle with the illness, Mya’s mother also passed away.
As difficult as the loss has been for Mya, she continues to be grateful for her As Our Own family. She is healthy; she is an irreplaceable member of our family; she stands at the top of her class in school.
Mya’s heart of gratitude remains, even in the face of difficulties and losses. What a joy it is to have Mya as part of our family!
When Aliya was very young, she came to live at our home because her mother was enslaved in a brothel, unable to give her hope for a better life.
Like many other sex slaves, Aliya’s mother had been abducted from her home in Nepal and forced to work in the brothels of India. Life in the red-light district is so dark that many who are trapped there think nothing of luring others into the same horrific fate—moms will even lure their own daughters into the trade.
That’s what happened to Aliya when she was 16. After years of living with us, her mother re-emerged and invited Aliya to come live with her once again. Aliya’s tender heart thought her mother’s invitation was sincere, extended out of love with a desire for them to be together.
But soon it became apparent that the mafia was pressuring Aliya’s mother to lure her daughter to them so they could enslave Aliya too—like mother, like daughter.
That’s when As Our Own stepped in once again to fight for the life of this girl. The forces of darkness were strong against Aliya’s life, and we believe it is because of the dream in Aliya’s heart: She longed to attend College and wanted to tell others of the wondrous grace in her life.
That message of hope and redemption is something our enemy wants to destroy.
After many discussions with Aliya, she finally understood the ill intent of her mother’s invitation and the danger of going to live with her. To her mother, she said, “I understand what it is you are doing; just know I will never come there. But hopefully, one day I hope I can bring you out of there.”
Safe in our family, she was able to complete her undergraduate studies. And today, she is pursuing her Master’s degree at an English seminary in India.
The dream in Aliya’s heart is coming to fruition, made possible through the love and support we receive from partners like you. Because you stood in the gap, Aliya’s life was rescued from the darkness of the sex trade—twice.