When Li Li* was 13, her father died, leaving her and her mother without any income, in a country where there is no social security. Her mother, desperate to pay the rent on their house, sold her daughter’s virginity.
When Li Li was 15, she was sold by her mother as a bride to a neighboring country.
The husband who purchased her treated her like an object. He chained her like a dog around her ankle so she would not escape. Eventually, she gained some trust and was allowed more freedom, and she saw an opportunity to run away.
She fled to the nearest city where she was quickly targeted by human traffickers at the bus stop, who promised her that they would provide a job in a big city. She arrived only to find out that this “job” was working in a brothel. Threatened because she had no papers or identification, she was forced into sexual exploitation. The brothel owners continually led her on by promising an eventual lump sum of money, but they had an excuse every month for why they could not come up with the money.
It was in this brothel that our outreach teams met Li Li.
Our team knows from experience that brothel owners retain their control not only physically but also financially, emotionally, and psychologically.
We saw how Li Li really believed she would receive this money eventually, and even after being rescued, she struggled to decide whether she would return to the brothel and demand the pay she had been promised.
Eden helped Li Li return to her home country where she joined Eden’s restoration program. She has started studying many new skills including jewelry making and teaching children. Today, she is confident in her value and potential as she moves forward.
* Eden pursues the highest degree of protection for the individuals that we care for. Names have been changed to protect the individuals’ privacy.