Human trafficking is a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle.
Powerless and abused, many individuals who have been trafficked find their way into exploiting others as a form of self-protection. This creates contagious brokenness as wounded people imprint their pain on others.
This was the case in Operation Cycle, which The Exodus Road’s Alpha team recently completed in Thailand.
Rune* and Sunan* were just 14 and 16 years old when Alpha investigators found evidence online that they were being sold for sex. They had already been subjected to abuse for a full year after trusting a friend’s promises of employment. Their trafficker was selling them in a cheaply painted hotel that catered to western tourists.
Pictured: The hotel room where Rune and Sunan were being sold.
The trafficker was only a teenager himself, already part of perpetuating the cruel cycle of exploitation.
He used the drugs that had helped him survive to exert control over Rune and Sunan, keeping them in line while keeping the profits from their repeated sale.
When law enforcement mobilized based on the evidence that Alpha team had provided, at first Rune and Sunan were stunned. With the gentle words of a social worker and the reassurance of police that they were not at fault, the boys began to understand the cycle that had ensnared them.
Pictured: Law enforcement raiding the resort where Kasem was being sold.
This was a powerful moment for Alpha team, who had been present for the rescue of another teenage boy, Kasem,* just days earlier. Kasem was 15, and he had been trapped after trusting a friend who was being trafficked himself. The teenage boy was being sold for sex under the deceptive shade of a resort’s green foliage.
When police arrived, they found Kasem, frightened and confused — but his trafficker was not there. Gathering evidence at the scene to add to what Alpha had already compiled, law enforcement continued to pursue the trafficker. Later, they successfully arrested him.
All three of these teenage boys have been transferred to government aftercare services. They’ve physically exited the sickening cycle of exploitation; now, they have the chance to continue untangling themselves mentally and emotionally.
These three teenagers are free from that cycle because of your support of Alpha team. Thank you for breaking the pattern of modern-day slavery!
*Names and some images are representative.