Excerpt from Christianity Today:
The ‘business’ of helping the sexually exploited help themselves.
Dawn Herzog Jewell
When Moon was 12 weeks old, her birth mother sold her to a local Burmese woman, who raised her like a slave. When Moon (not her real name) was 3 years old, this second “mother” forced her to wash dishes in a restaurant eight hours a day. When Moon turned 13, the woman sold Moon’s virginity to a Western businessman in Thailand. But she fought her way free.
A few months later, she wasn’t so lucky. Her second mother blocked the hotel room door after an Indian man paid 30,000 baht ($800) and then beat Moon with a belt until she submitted to sex. She had to be carried home. For 10 days, Moon couldn’t walk.
“I felt like throwing up,” she says. “I was repulsed by my ‘mother’ and afraid of men. I was sad and ashamed, because I wasn’t clean.”
A year later, across the border in northern Thailand, the same woman tricked Moon into working at a noodle stand that was in reality a brothel. When Moon refused to comply with her first customer, the brothel owner slapped her and taped her hands to the bed. She shouted, so they forced a ping-pong ball in her mouth and taped it shut. The second night, 15 men used her; the next night, 9; the next, 11. The johns included men from Thailand, Myanmar, Japan, Korea, India, and the West. The owner’s brother, a policeman, drugged Moon and 10 other captive girls to keep them awake at night. They were threatened with cigarette burns.
Moon tried to escape, but the woman owner and her brothers locked her in her room and kept an armed vigil at the brothel. Several times, policemen visited in street clothes and used Moon for free, compliments of the owner. She begged them for help. But they told the owner, who beat Moon and threatened to throw acid on her face.
During her time in the brothel, Moon was raped about 100 times.
“I cursed every god. But in my heart, I believed someone would come and help me,” Moon says. She was right. After nearly a month in the brothel, the police and International Justice Mission, an evangelical ministry, rescued her.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of women and children are prostituted around the globe. Moon was one of an estimated 1 million children who annually enter the multibillion-dollar industry of commercial sexual exploitation, according to UNICEF. In Thailand alone, where prostitution is technically illegal, some 200,000 girls and women are exploited.