There are an estimated 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation.
Marisol Garcia Bejarano spent seventeen years in prison for a crime she did not commit. A survivor of human trafficking she was trafficked from Tijuana to California and was raped and beaten by her trafficker. Marisol witnessed a murder committed by the man who bought her for $200 when she was just thirteen years old. After years of holding her as his domestic servant and sexual slave, he then framed Marisol for his murder, and she went to a California prison for his crime.
My name is Marisol Garcia Bejarano. I was born in Tijuana, my life as a child it was very lonely, very sad. I came from a poor family, so I had been working since I was a kid.
I was around 13 years old, I just was happy that I was getting in to the United States. But I never thought my dream was gonna become a nightmare. I had no clothes and I had bruises on my arms and my face and my legs. I just know I had been raped and beat up. I said, you know what, just let me go and I will not let anybody know what’s happened to me, just let me go. He said no you are my woman, I already paid for you. In that moment he pushed me back and raped me once again.
I went to prison because of him and I went to pay a crime that I didn’t commit. That’s my favourite part of my life, my favourite. Because that was my freedom.
Narrative provided by iEmpathize