One Thai New Year's holiday, I went to stay at my aunt’s house. While I was there, my aunt asked me if I wanted a job working at a restaurant in the big city. I thought it sounded like a good idea and would be a way to earn money and help my grandmother, who I lived with.
I took the bus as my aunt had directed and, after many hours of travelling, I arrived at the restaurant. The city was so busy and very different to what I was used to.
When I got inside the restaurant, a few other girls were also waiting to hear about the job. That night a man met us at the restaurant to explain. He told us that our job was not serving food – but that we would be giving sexual services to men.
I didn’t know what to do. I had no idea how this promise of a “good” job had turned out like this. I didn’t even know where I was, or how I could escape to find my way back to my grandma’s house. Had my aunt known about this all along? I felt confused, alone and uncertain about what to do next.
I felt scared I was trapped.
Unable to escape, we were taken to another location where we started “work” the next night around 9pm and didn’t finish until 5am. Night after night, once the clients had all left, we girls would collapse exhausted and sleep upstairs above the club until it would all start again the next night. The owner forced us to work every day.
One night, the owner was very nervous and told us to stay out of sight. We did not know why but we heard shouting and the sound of police sirens. We were crouching down in a laneway just outside the back of the club when some of the other girls took a risk and ran away down the street into the night. I was too scared to run and remained hidden, my heart pounding.
All I remember next was that a bright light was shining on me and suddenly I was pulled up out of my hiding place.
I felt confused at first, but the reassuring voices of the rescue team were telling me that I was safe.
The ZOE Child Rescue team alongside local police, successfully rescued Mina and some of the other girls that night and brought them to a safe house.
The owner of the bar was successfully prosecuted.
ZOE was able to reunite Mina with her grandmother. Mina is now safe and working a job that she loves.
Mina thanks God, and ZOE, for giving her
"new life… life to the fullest"
which is what ZOE means in Greek.
*Based on real life events. In an effort to protect her identity, her name and the details of this case may have been changed.