Short Story Type: Novelette
Summary: My name is Elena and I used to be a human being. Now I am a sex slave.
If you are reading this diary then I am either dead or I have managed to escape…
Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave is a gritty, gripping, and tear-jerking novella, inspired by real victims’ accounts and research into the sex trafficking underworld.
It is estimated that 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year – 80% of these are women and girls. (Source: U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report: 2007)
For the first time since I was a little child, I am lost. I have no idea where I am, although I have not travelled far, so I must still be in Moldova. I remember getting lost at a busy market when I was about four years old. My mother turned away to haggle over vegetables with a stall holder, and I wandered off at the lure of something bright-coloured and pretty in the distance. In a sea of legs, I disappeared, and when I turned to look for my mother again, I could not find her. I screamed, of course, crying out for her. When eventually we were reunited, I hugged her tight and would not let her go. I followed her around for weeks afterwards so the same thing never happened again.
Now I am lost and my mother cannot help me. No amount of crying or screaming will get me out of here. I have tried.
I know what is going on. I have heard the stories from nearby villages but I never thought it could happen to me. You don’t, do you?
Trust. It is such a small word but it can have such a big effect on your life.
I trusted my best friend when she told me her boyfriend could get us both a job in a casino in Italy. I had no reason not to trust her. We have been friends since we could talk. In all this time I never thought she would betray me. Am I naïve or just stupid? I have a feeling I will wonder this a lot in the coming days.
There is nothing else to do at the moment but sit and think of a way out of here. Somehow, I fear it will be impossible, though. I have decided to keep this diary in case I never get out. It is hidden in my rucksack, in a gap underneath the lining at the bottom. If they find it, I will be in serious trouble. Maybe writing it will stop me going mad, and hopefully my family will eventually know what happened to me.
I can picture my mother’s wrinkled face and see my daughter Liliana’s gappy-toothed smile. Liliana is four years old, and she is my life. I need to survive for her, but they have told me if I try to escape, they will kill her and my mother. I have seen the cold hatred in their eyes as they described to me in detail exactly what they would do to them, and I know they would not hesitate to carry out their threats.
I should explain how I came to be locked in this small bedroom somewhere in Moldova, because I need you to know that none of this is my fault.
I am twenty-two years old and live in a poor village. Most people are living hand-to-mouth – maybe on less than a dollar a day. Moldova has a very high rate of unemployment, and they say it is one of the poorest countries in Europe. People in our village sold their kidneys on the black market just to keep them in food. They could make around $500 for one kidney. You can do the maths to know that is a fortune. I wonder how much the rate is for a sex slave.
Some people have sold their children to the slave gangs, too. I heard of one woman whose husband died. She had seven children she could not afford to feed anymore so she sold three of her daughters to the sex mafia. I always wondered what happened to her girls. Maybe they are here, in this place, and I will see them again.
How could she do that to her children? Her daughters would be better off dead than suffering what they must have to endure. If they are alive, they are surely in a living hell. I think of Liliana’s innocent face, the way she cuddles up to me for a story. She trusts me. How could I ever put her in danger? To save my other children? Is that a good enough reason?
Natalia, my so-called best friend, told me her boyfriend Andrei knew of some jobs working in a casino in Italywhere the wages were €500 a month. A month! Imagine so much money. Natalia said the casino would even pay our travelling fare.
I had it all figured out. Liliana could stay with my mother for a month, just until I got everything arranged inItaly. I would find a small apartment using my wages and bring them both to live with me. It would be perfect. A way out of this country to a world of new opportunities.
It was a very emotional goodbye with Liliana and my mother. Liliana held onto my legs and did not want to let go. We all cried so much. I promised them as soon as I got an apartment I would send for them and we would be together again. It would not be long, a month at the most.
I arranged to meet Natalia at the bus station in town. We were going to be picked up by a friend of Andrei who would drive us all the way to Italy. But when I found Natalia she told me there was a problem with her passport and she would not be able to go until it was sorted out. She talked me into going without her.
‘It will only be a week or so before I join you,’ she said. ‘Don’t worry, Andrei and his friend will look after you.’ She smiled and hugged me.
And I trusted her.
Andrei’s friend did not drive me to Italy. I am still somewhere in Moldova. I was blindfolded and handcuffed and threatened with death in the car before I arrived here with my captor. If I did not do what they ordered, they told me they would do unspeakable things to Liliana and my mother before they kill them. I cannot risk their lives so I must do what they tell me.
I am in a house, I think, in the country. There are no city noises here, only birds chirping. I never thought I would envy a bird, but I do. They are free to fly away from here, and I imagine I am a sparrow or an owl, launching myself through the windows to freedom. But there are bars on the windows and the shutters are closed, so there is no way for me to escape. I have tried the door but it is locked with a key and bolted from the outside. It is dark in my prison cell, and I think I have been here for about eight hours so it must be night time by now. I am in a whitewashed room about two metres square, and I am lying on an old mattress that smells of urine and filth, with my hands and feet in chains. There is a bucket in here for me to go to the toilet. No paper to use, though, and the thought of being unable to wipe myself disgusts me.
There are other girls here, too. I can hear them through the walls, crying and screaming. I want to talk to them; to get some comfort from knowing we are together, but I do not dare. If my captors hear me talking it may make them angry. Earlier I heard a door burst open nearby and a man’s voice yelling at one of the girls to be quiet. I heard slaps and punches, and her high-pitched screams that pierced my brain, even though my hands were pressed tightly over my ears. Now I hear just her soft sobs.
I know what happened; I could hear that, too.