This girl’s story initially opened my eyes to the cruelty of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
After meeting a young girl in Northern Thailand many years ago, my heart was forever committed to helping young women and children caught in the trap of human trafficking and exploitation. Nom Ying is only one of thousands who have been exploited.
Here is her story:
Nom Ying was only 8 years of age when she met Western men that visited her small, remote rice village in Northern Thailand, a simple, poor community. That year the rice crop failed; her parents and community lost everything. She told me how these Western men who came to live in the village were so kind and offered to help with the default in the rice crop. Her parents as well as many in the village accepted their offer.
It was at night when Nom Ying heard a knock on the door; the men came to collect the money they lent to her parents. Lacking the money, until the final crop came in, the men gave them a little more time. Again they came back at night; her parents still didn't have enough money. The men offered to take Nom Ying, educate her and get her a well-paying job so that her parents owed nothing. Nom Ying was awakened, and sent with the men, whom she learned to trust since they lived in the village and helped everyone. She was put in a large van while they picked up other girls in the village.
As soon as they were out of the village, all the girls were blindfolded and their mouths were taped. This shocked the girls; they thought that these men were their friends. Nom Ying told me how they drove all night and into the next day and then that night.
The dirty van finally stopped, and Nom Ying was put by herself into her torture chamber. It was a small cubical that was no bigger than her outstretched body. It had no windows, a small door and a cement floor. She was given rice and water once a day, and held captive for over 11 days. Remember, she was only 8 and may not have been able to count any higher. When she was removed from her cubical, her eyes had to adjust to the light. Weak and disoriented, she followed her captors.
This is where her true nightmare began: She was brought into a room with a large bed and she was tied on the bed. The men began sexually defiling her with objects such as broom handles and beer bottles. The torture was beyond her comprehension!
As she was telling me the story, Nom Ying said she didn't understand why her parents would give her away to these men so they could torment, afflict, and torture her, so brutally. She had always been such a good and obedient daughter.
Nom Ying's tragic career as an exploited sex worker began at the age of 8. She was trafficked to more than 5 countries when she was finally tossed out at age 19 because she was too old. Rescued by an aid worker in Malaysia, she found her way back to her small village, only to discover that her father had died, and her mother disowned her, not believing a word of what Nom Ying told her about her nightmare life.
That's when I decided that I would be committed to helping children and young women like Nom Ying, so that they never have to face what she did.
Jann MacCollam, the founder and CEO of Abandoned Abused & Restored, has worked over 20 years with exploited and disadvantaged women and children in their own communities.