On Monday I introduced you to The Exodus Road. Today, I’d like to share with you the story of Sarah, a 15 year old girl recently found and rescued by an investigator working with The Exodus Road.
The Exodus Road team met Sarah in a brothel in Cambodia. There was a line of prostitutes behind a glass wall – a fishbowl they call it. They were sitting on high bar stools, with heavy make-up and short skirts. They had numbers pinned to their shoulders on display for the customers on the other side of the glass.
Each girl was reduced to a number. A commodity to be sold.
Then Sarah was brought in. She was “fresh,” the pimp had told the lead investigator over the phone. Sarah was dressed in street clothes and kept her head down. She was 15 and had been sold by her mother in a neighboring country several days before to work off a debt which her mother owed. Sarah’s virginity had been sold three days prior for $600 USD.
Sarah’s innocence was reduced to a number – this time, a price.
With covert cameras, the investigators were able to record the sale of Sarah for the night, capturing valuable evidence that could be passed on to the trusted authorities in hopes of the pimp’s prosecution. Later, behind a closed door, the operative was able to call a social worker who spoke Sarah’s language. He explained that he was there to help her, not to hurt her, and that he could aid her escape if she wanted. Unfortunately, Sarah was too scared to run. She was understandably too scared to trust a stranger.
The following day, the investigator returned to visit Sarah in the brothel, just blocks away from a crowded local market. She scribbled a note, “Please Rescue Me,” on a bill and slipped it to him.
She wanted out, but didn’t know the way.
Immediately, the investigator gave his testimony and video evidence to the authorities and asked the government to conduct a raid on Sarah’s behalf. It was believed that 10 or more girls were also being held against their wills at the same brothel.
And so she waited. And suffered.
After weeks of waiting, Sarah’s door was kicked in. The note she scribbled to the investigator on a piece of currency which said, “Please rescue me,” finally got answered.
It was a professional operation, spearheaded chiefly by the lead investigator, which took the course of three days and resulted in the discovery of 8 underage victims and the arrests of the brothel owners.
As the doors were kicked in, the value of each individual victim was proclaimed – for truly they are more than a number.
Story details from Laura Parker of The Exodus Road. Used with permission.
For more stories like this, check out The Exodus Road blog.