When a poor family in Cambodia fell afoul of loan sharks, the mother asked her youngest daughter to take a job. But not just any job.
The girl, Kieu, was taken to a hospital and examined by a doctor, who issued her a "certificate of virginity." She was then delivered to a hotel, where a man raped her for two days.
Kieu was 12 years old.
"I did not know what the job was," says Kieu, now 14 and living in a safehouse. She says she returned home from the experience "very heartbroken." But her ordeal was not over.
After the sale of her virginity, her mother had Kieu taken to a brothel where, she says, "they held me like I was in prison."
She was kept there for three days, raped by three to six men a day. When she returned home, her mother sent her away for stints in two other brothels, including one 400 kilometers away on the Thai border. When she learned her mother was planning to sell her again, this time for a six-month stretch, she realized she needed to flee her home.
"Selling my daughter was heartbreaking, but what can I say?" says Kieu's mother, Neoung, in an interview with a CNN crew that travelled to Phnom Penh to hear her story.
Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Credit: (CNN) By Tim Hume, Lisa Cohen and Mira Sorvino
Photography by Jeremie Montessuis for CNN
Promised a new life and a fresh start ...
17-year-old Joy was trafficked from Nigeria and forced into prostitution in Italy. Her trafficker lured her with a promise of a job and a better life. This is her story.
Location: Nigeria & Italy
Mamareen sold her daughter Akila for $3,000 to Najmuddin, who has promised her to his 10-year-old son, Sher Agha.
"I fled my village with my three children because of severe drought," she says. "I came here thinking that I will receive some assistance, but I got nothing. To avoid starvation among my children, I gave my daughter to a man for about $3,000, but have only got $70 so far. I had no money, no food and no breadwinner -- my husband was also killed."
Asked if Akila knew her fate, she said: "She doesn't know that I have sold her. How would she know? She is a child. But I had no other choice. Whether in tears or laughter, she will have to go. Who would sell a piece of her heart unless they really have to?"
Her fate lay meters away, in another, richer tent in the camp, with Najmuddin, her purchaser. Part of this transaction is cultural -- part of the mores of a society where girls have long been traded for dowries rather than being asked for consent. But to Najmuddin, this was an act of charity.
"Her family didn't have anything to eat. They were hungry," he said. "I know I am also poor, but I am sure I can pay it off slowly... in two to three years."
The Afghan cameraman asked, aren't they children? "It doesn't matter. These things happen here. Even an old man marries a young girl. It happens."
Location: Herat, Afghanistan
Asia is one of the largest child sex trafficking hubs in the world. Children, girls; as young as SIX years old are “working” in brothels and red light district businesses. Their initial thought was they would be entering a place of opportunity and safety, but instead this is what they were brought into... a life that would forever change them.
Ka (not her real name) reflects being sex trafficked and exploited. This is her story.
Underdeveloped countries and cities are prime targets of child sex slavery and feed the billion dollar industry. There is an overwhelming percentage of perpetrators who lure these children into the industry by suggesting false hopes of a bright future. Many, sadly are women, “madams” who prey on the innocent by creating trust and a relationship of safety.
Watch our series “Spot it & Solve it”, signs of child sex trafficking for more information.
Credit: World Vision
In person/physical child sex trafficking is NOT the only form of child exploitation.
Cybersex slavery has increased most especially in underdeveloped countries such as the Philippines, where children have been groomed to believe this form of “work” is normal.
Cybersex with exploited children has become an epidemic. More and more adult men are paying children from poor countries to engage in sexual acts in front of the camera. Tracking the perpetrators down is a monumental task.
Location: Manila, Philippines
Children all around the world are being stolen, abducted, raped, molested, sold, impregnated and beaten only to have to wake up bruised and scarred to have to re-live it over and over again... only this time with a different perpetrator or pedophile.
They are the vulnerable, the weak, the lost and confused, the homeless, the misguided, but most of all the young. Rapist and pedophiles pry on the vulnerable to manipulate them into trusting and believing they are their saviours.
The silent shall be silent no more. We are their voice. We are their strength. And we will empower them.