This is the story of a young victim of human trafficking. At 13 years old, this young lady was forced into marriage by a boy who was a fellow student at her school. Over the following three months, the terrible events that unfolded tell a story of an overlooked form of human trafficking. Here is her story, told from her own perspective:
I was abducted by a boy from my school after winter class. He tightly grabbed me by my hand and took me to his house. I was taken into the home for two months and forced to stay there. He took me to be his wife. I do not remember much of this time except that the mother would talk bad about me because I would not perform the duties of a wife. I was kept in one of the rooms where every night I was sexually assaulted. They were always there so I could not escape.
After two months the boy’s step mother, took me from Lesotho to South Africa to buy clothes that symbolizes that I am no longer a young girl but a woman who is married culturally to her step son. During this time she called my sister who lives in the area I was in so she could visit me. I told my sister what was going on and what happened to me. The next month I escaped from the boy and his step mother and ran away to my sister.
Later I learned that my parents were in negotiations with the boy’s family to force me in an unwanted marriage against my will. My sister phoned our parents and they did not deny the allegations instead they told her to return me to the alleged mother in law because they said I was married and they couldn’t do anything. When she tried to talk the parents out of the forced marriage they told her that if she takes me away from that family then she would be responsible to pay for my fees.
After speaking with my family my sister took me to the police station. The police station referred me to a social workers who to me to a place to stay for some time. I was moved to another center where I stayed with my sister, but the alleged mother in law kept threatening my sister. Because of the threats, the social worker referred the case to the local Embassy. They brought me back to Lesotho.
Once in Lesotho, this young lady was brought into Beautiful Dream Society’s care. Timid and undernourished, she was very frightened and had trouble sleeping at night because she would have dreams about what she experienced. She remained numb, refusing to talk about her experience because she did not want to remember anything that happened to her. She believed that by not talking about it the thoughts would disappear.
Over time, she began down the path to recovery, regaining her health and strength. Sleep and laughter came more easily. She responded very well to her trauma program. Her boisterous personality began to shine through as she became more open and friendly when she was around other women.
Eventually, she began to dream again! She desperately wanted to go back to school so she could one day become a teacher. Now, almost one year later, this bright young woman is back in school and working hard to achieve her goal of graduating so she can one day become a teacher!
-Rebecca Lanham, Lesotho Program Director