“I have an amazing job in Port-au-Prince as a waitress! I make great tips and all I have to do is wait tables,” Antonia’s* friend said on the phone, smiling through her wince. “It’s great money, you really should come out here,” she pushed a little farther, glancing at the trafficker next to her. She hoped she sounded convincing enough. Antonia, on the other end of the phone, weighed her options. It sounded too good to be true! She needed a job like this to support her kids, but she would hate to leave them.
This was only part of the traffickers’ cunning process to lure unsuspecting girls into the world of sex trafficking. Once the girls agree, the traffickers smuggle them from their home country (the Dominican Republic) into Haiti. Through various manipulative methods, traffickers had convinced three new girls to come to Haiti to “work.” Antonia, Roseline, and Maria* tearfully said goodbye to their children at home as they left to make some money to support them.
The minute they arrived at the club, their passports were ripped from them and a contract was shoved in their faces with the terms:
You must pay us back for your travel fees. You owe us $1,500 and must pay in full if you desire to leave.
The traffickers knew these girls would never be able to afford this sum. This was their method to trap these girls in their sex trafficking ring. The only way the girls could repay their debt was to sell themselves and to be violated and exploited in the club…as each day their debt continued to grow by the following “fees” they were forced to pay.
Room: and board: $200/week
Grooming: up to $50-$75/day
Meet a client in the club: $50-$80
Go home with a client overnight: $100
These girls faced an insurmountable debt their first day there and watched it grow each week. As time passed, some chose not to sell themselves to clients out of the pure disgust this act would bring; they would rather go into more debt and decrease their chances of ever returning home than be exploited by horrible men.
In late August, O.U.R.’s undercover Ops Team walked into the club where Antonia, Roseline, Maria, and many other girls were silently suffering. The operatives spoke with these three girls, who soon shared that they wanted a way out. This was the beginning of their rescue. Although our team was not able to extract them at that moment, they gathered information and planned to come back soon.
Soon it was time for the operation. Our team was able to safely rescue these three girls!
We are happy to report that Antonia, Roseline, and Maria are now home safe in the Dominican Republic. O.U.R. Aftercare Director Jessica Mass was able to connect them with our aftercare partners there to receive support and healing. They shared their desire to attend school, build a happy life for their families, and heal from their experience at the Haitian club.
These strong survivors were able to have sweet reunions with their families and are now working on preparing legal statements against the club to help shut it down. We are also in the process of tailoring aftercare support to each of the three survivors, as one wants to study at a university, one wants to start her own business, and one needs medical services. We need your support to help us raise the funds needed to help these girls realize their dreams, return to their lives, and build up their hope. Thank you so very much for your support!
And with your generous support, O.U.R. will continue to travel into the darkest corners of the world to rescue the lost children–those trapped in sex trafficking who no one is looking for–and bring them hope and healing.
*Names have been changed to protect the survivors’ identities.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Operation Saxophone.