A mother asked us for help. Her daughter, Ying*, had been referred to a job overseas by her cousin. Ying accepted the job as a Thai massage therapist with a lot of excitement and with her family’s blessing. The money would help the whole family, and the cousin was helping to look out for them.
The night after Ying left, her mom got a call from her far away. Once she got to the massage place in a foreign country, Ying learned that was expected to sell sex to customers. If she wanted out, she had to pay back her debt for the flight. Ying had been trafficked. Her cousin had lied to her and probably made money from the transaction.
Ying’s family in Thailand mobilized quickly to gather money to transfer to that country in order to release their daughter from debts so she could come home. Thankfully, Ying got out before she was forced to sell sex.
The mother felt horrible that this had happened to her daughter. “I felt guilty and thought it was my fault because I supported her to go,” she said. “I didn't know that my daughter was deceived to work in that kind of job, selling sex, at a Thai traditional massage place.”
The mom was also furious at the cousin. She couldn’t believe her own family would do such a thing to her daughter. Once Ying was home and safe, the mother contacted LIFT and asked us to help them figure out next steps. They wanted to make sure to report this trafficking to police to make sure that no more young women were hurt. “My first thought was that I needed help from LIFT,” Ying’s mother said. “I knew what LIFT did. I believed and felt glad that LIFT would help and could help my daughter.”
Our team helped walk the family through the police process and we are advising Ying and her mom on how to handle the situation with the cousin. Now, the family sticks close together. “I want my daughter to work at home,” explains Ying’s mom. “She also thinks she doesn't want to work overseas anymore. Right now, she has a job near home.”
Especially for Thai families struggling to pay bills, jobs overseas offer promise of stability and security. Ying felt safe taking a job that her cousin recommended, but things were not as they seemed. Ying’s family thought and acted quickly to keep her safe and avert a dangerous outcome. We are glad to offer her family support as they try to seek justice and help prevent other families from going through the same ordeal.
*Ying is not her real name.