Rosa's Story: The High Price Of Human Trafficking
Her name is Rosa and she was just 13 years old when her life changed forever. She went from being a young waitress in a small Mexican village to being held captive as a prostitute and a slave.
It all started when a family acquaintance told Rosa that she could make 10 times as much money waiting tables in the United States as she could in her small village. It sounded like an offer that was too good to be true -- she could make enough money to send some back to her family, and if she got homesick, she could just pick up and come home.
Rosa's parents were skeptical, but she was persistent. Against the wishes of her family and friends, she agreed to make the journey to America in hope of a better life.
Rosa and several young girls were driven across the border, and then continued the rest of the way on foot. They traveled four days and nights through the desert, making their way into Texas, then crossing east toward Florida.
Finally, Rosa and the other girls arrived at their destination, a rundown trailer where they would be put to work. Rosa was told that she would be forced to work as a prostitute. For a young girl like Rosa, this was a nightmare -- but as she soon realized, she had to do what she was told or else.
Rosa was gang-raped and locked up like a prisoner until she agreed to do what she was told. She lived under 24-hour watch and was forced to engage in sexual relations with up to 30 men a day. When she got pregnant, she was forced to have an abortion, then sent back to work the next day.
Soon, this innocent girl had become a tragic young woman with several sexually transmitted diseases, broken bones that hadn't healed properly, and an addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Rosa finally made her escape from the brothel, but her ordeal was not over. She was arrested and locked in jail, the same as her captors. She was treated like a criminal instead of a victim.
The Many Faces of 'Rosa'
Just like on AMW, this Rosa is a composite of several real women, and they are only a few of the 50,000 people a year who are smuggled into the United States and treated as slaves. These victims of human trafficking are forced into a variety of exploitative situations including prostitution and hard labor.
Law enforcement is working to stop the awful trade in human trafficking -- and activists are doing their part to make sure that the victims of this crime are treated in a respectful and humane way.
New Law Brings New Hope
Patricio Sosa »
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 was designed to protect these victims as well as to prosecute traffickers. One of the main provisions of this law was the creation of the T visa, which allows victims of human trafficking to remain in the United States and assist federal authorities in prosecuting their captors.
By cooperating with investigators against those who enslaved them, the victims now have a chance to fight back -- and their testimony gives law enforcement a powerful tool to help stop these human traffickers.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act also creates tougher sentences for those convicted of human trafficking. Thanks to the changes in the law, these perpetrators may receive up to 20 years in prison, instead of just 10, and in some cases they may even receive life sentences.