Chariya became a child sex slave in Cambodia at age of seven, trafficked with her four-year-old sister. She was rescued after four years. She notes that the dreams of a “little girl” were over when she entered slavery. Her enslavement continues to cast a long shadow: freedom includes “nightmares.” Despite endemic corruption that contributes to slavery in various sectors in Cambodia, including with vulnerable demographics, the government has done little to investigate, prosecute or convict complicit officials.
My name is Chariya. I am 12 years and I have seen things that children should never see. When I was seven, my mother died. When she was living she made thatched roofs for people’s houses. She was a wonderful mother. I miss her very much. My father was unable to care for me and my little sister, so my auntie took us. She was not a nice woman. One day she sold me and my little sister to a brothel. I was aged seven. My little sister was aged only four.
We were locked in a room where we could not escape. We were forced to watch pornographic movies, to learn what to do. We were forced to watch couples through a hole in the wall. If we refused, they would shock us with an electrical rod. I still have nightmares.
Narrative as told to World Hope International, 2003, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.