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Teen Boy Rescued from Asian Massage Parlor

Teen boy rescued from massage parlor in Thailand

Today, a 16-year-old boy from Myanmar is free. After being exploited for sex in a male massage parlor in Southeast Asia for 20 days, Ye* was rescued. Based on evidence gathered by The Exodus Road’s investigators, local police rescued Ye and arrested two traffickers in Operation EDEN.

Our team in Southeast Asia and our deployed operatives had worked tirelessly on the case for nine months, gathering evidence and then supporting police to execute the raid.

One of our American investigators, who had worked on this case during a deployment, said that this massage parlor was the case that weighed heaviest on him. But he was glad to make that sacrifice for Ye’s freedom.

The innocence I lost on this trip and the trauma that will stick with me is such a small price to pay compared to what these victims experience regularly,” he said after returning home from the deployment. “I truly believe that if everyone could see what we dare to see, that it would begin to change our culture.”

The raid resulted in the arrests of the owner and manager, successfully shutting down the establishment. Police translated Ye’s Burmese ID to confirm his age and charged the two offenders with trafficking of a minor. The sentence for one count of human trafficking in this region can range from four to 20 years.

Multiple young men were being exploited at the massage parlor, but only Ye could be classified as a victim of human trafficking because he is under 18. The police are interviewing previous employees to continue building the case against the traffickers.Today, Ye is recovering in a government safe home for boys. The Exodus Road will follow up with Ye as he transitions into freedom.

This case is a huge victory for us to celebrate. Laws in this region require a heavier burden of proof before police can execute a raid, so our operatives had to persevere through obstacles and setbacks to make Operation EDEN possible. We are so grateful to the local law enforcement who put in incredible time and effort to push this case through to success.

*Ye is a representative name that means “brave” in Burmese. Names are changed for survivors’ safety.

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India Community Unites to Give Weddings to Trafficking Survivors

Villages unite raise money for survivors' wedding

21 women in India’s sex trade just received a life-changing gift that could save them from a life of prostitution. These 21 women, many of whom had been forced into prostitution since childhood, were given a wedding.

A wedding may not seem like a completely life-changing gift to you or me, but for women in these rural villages in India, marriage can be an opportunity for freedom.

The women belong to two of the lowly or “untouchable” castes in India, where safety and status are often out of reach. In their villages, prostitution is the traditional trade for women. Girls are forced into the sex trade at a young age while their brothers often become their pimps. They are sold for sex along highways, or in brothels and bars in cities.

Marriage is rare and discouraged for these girls because they are not allowed to take clients once they are married. The women also face financial obstacles. Beyond the cost of the wedding itself, the community’s elders allow marriage only if a large dowry is paid to the village.

Women from two of these poor villages started petitioning their police and officials for permission to marry. According to The Exodus Road’s operatives, the women wanted to marry their boyfriends and leave the sex trade their families had forced them into. They were not only petitioning for the ability to marry; they were petitioning for escape from a life of sex slavery.

When the police looked into the women’s complaints, they found that 21 women in these two villages wanted to marry and leave prostitution. The police and officials agreed to marry the women and their partners in one group ceremony.

One of the 21 wedding couples at a group ceremony in India

The women’s villages in rural India came together to make it possible for their group wedding. Individuals, police, and government officials collected money for the event, which cost the equivalent of about $12,000. Police asked The Exodus Road to contribute to the fund.

Freedom. Love. Dignity. What a gift to give.

The community banded together to pay for the ceremony, which nearly 500 people attended. This unexpected demonstration of support and generosity gives The Exodus Road’s investigators hope for the future. They were honored to not only help make the ceremony possible, but also to attend the celebration.

“It was a special experience for our investigators to attend the wedding,” said The Exodus Road’s Country Director Sudir.* “This kind of good work needs to be done on a regular basis.”

The Exodus Road works to empower local communities to understand and fight human trafficking. By employing foreign nationals and building long-term relationships with local officials, we aim to not only rescue those who are currently enslaved, but also create sustainable freedom.

And on this day, as nearly two dozen brides looked toward a hopeful new future, we glimpsed that sustainable freedom. Tomorrow, we will return to searching the darkness. Today, we celebrate victory.

Nearly 500 people attended the wedding ceremony for 21 women wanting to leave the sex trade in India.

*Sudir is a representative name. Names of survivors and operatives are changed for their protection. Photos are from the actual celebration.

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