11 May, 2010

It only takes a moment...

“Cages?” I repeated, snapping a photo of the crisscrossed bars of metal. “What’s in them?”

“Little girls,” he said. “They’re smuggled in from Nepal and held for 30 days while they’re urinated on, tortured, and raped—until they no longer have a will to rebel. Only then are they ready to be child prostitutes.”

That moment—and that photo—changed my life. (via)

The moment was for me in 2008 when I sat in WHI's Assessment Center and watched this little girl. She was six (at most) though she said she was nine. She had two little pigtails on her head, making her look like Pebbles from The Flintstones. She looked up and laughed as I tried (and failed) to say a word in Khmer. That moment changed everything. I want a picture to remember, I want an image to hold onto and say - this, this is who changed me. But all I have is a memory, reduced to the pigtails in her hair.

I've seen trafficking. I have watched it. I know the devastation it can cause, the long term affects of being sexually molested and told your worth is only what a man can do to you. It's not concentual when it's been happening since you were five.  I've seen the dead look in girls' eyes as they passively let the night go by, unable to imagine more, numb to what is done to them. 

But there is hope - and I have seen that too. Anyone's dignity can be restored, anyone can be healed. But we have to fight to get them out of where they are - fight the demand, the pull factors, a culture and world that says it's okay or turns those little girls into the problem. 

It only takes a moment. A life can change in a moment. 

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© Amanda Lunday