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.