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Written by IJM
Posted on 13 June 2017 under Recent posts, Sex trafficking, Sexual violence.

A girl should be with her mother.

At least that’s what Liana’s* mom told her the summer of her 14th birthday, when she agreed to move in with the woman she had not seen in a very long time. Liana never imagined her own mother would enslave her, threaten her with a knife, and sell her for sex, day after day.

Liana’s parents had separated when she was too young to remember. After her father died in a motorcycle accident, she was raised by her grandparents.

The summer before seventh grade, Liana traveled to the nearby town where her mother lived to spend her vacation reconnecting with her. They had fun, and her mother convinced Liana to stay with her for the school year.

The fun ended suddenly one morning when Liana woke up and her mother wouldn’t let her go to school. Her mom threatened to kill her if she didn’t do as she was told. Then she took Liana to a hotel and sold her to a man who raped her.

“I obeyed,” Liana remembers, “I didn’t want her to hurt me.”

A long line of customers had sex with Liana, often multiple times a day. Liana was cut off from the outside world. No one knew where she was. Her mother controlled her every word and move. Liana wondered if it would ever end.

Sex trafficking is slavery. No one should have to endure it.

Right now, there are thousands of girls like Liana—trapped in houses, in brothels and on the street. Many were betrayed by their own families.

Liana endured her suffering for nearly five months—until another mom stepped in. When the mother of a man who was abusing Liana found out, she confronted him and he took Liana to her grandparents. Liana was finally free.

Her grandparents reported the crime to police, who called in IJM to help bring Liana’s mother to justice.

But Liana is not truly safe yet—not until her mother and an accomplice are held accountable. Police arrested the two, but their criminal trial has faced multiple delays.

With the help of IJM social workers, Liana is healing from her trauma and regaining her self-worth. Now 16, she enters the eighth grade this fall and dreams of someday helping children who are hurting.

“I’ve been able to overcome what happened to me,” Liana says confidently. “I think I have a big future ahead of me. Now, I can see myself caring for children, like a paediatrician.”

*A pseudonym

International Justice Mission protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors and strengthen justice systems. Join the fight against slavery.

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