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Holly's News From Washington - A Note on Heroes
This summer, we at IJM have been sharing stories with our friends around the country about heroes we have come to know in the work of justice. Those of you involved in IJM’s Justice Campaigns also know that we are working together to develop some heroes of our own in the U.S. Congress. A hero is a Senator like Marco Rubio (R-FL), who asks every State Department official who comes before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – including newly appointed Ambassadors – detailed questions about human trafficking. Another Senate hero is Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who, along with Ohio Senator Rob Portman, founded the Senate Anti-Trafficking Caucus and is a reliable friend on virtually every anti-trafficking initiative in play this year.
This morning, at an IJM staff briefing, I heard about a different kind of hero. Sani is a young girl whom IJM and local police rescued from prostitution in Mumbai, India. She suffered terribly from hourly rape by many men. Sometimes the brothel owner would hide Sani in small locked spaces when she “wasn’t needed.” Three months after she was rescued, on June 12, Sani insisted on joining IJM investigators and local police to help find girls she knew in the same building where she had been kept. She found six girls in tiny crawl spaces, in two adjoining brothels.
I keep thinking about Sani and her courage. It takes enormous courage for IJM’s own investigators to enter these dark and dangerous places. Sani was literally putting herself back in harm’s way – terrible, violent, humiliating harm that she had only recently escaped. But that’s what she did, because she cared about her friends and knew where they would be hidden. It seems that countless rapes, beatings, endless humiliation and cruelty simply couldn’t extinguish Sani’s compassion for other girls.
You might think that as a sex trafficking survivor, Sani was completely powerless. You would be wrong. IJM and the police simply would not have found six girls in a filthy, vile building if Sani had not had the courage and power to lead them straight to her friends.
Think what could be done to eradicate slavery around the world and in our own country if people with lots of power, like Senators and Members of Congress, exercised it on behalf of girls like Sani and her friends. If enough elected legislators made freedom a priority – and supported the funding and diplomacy that are desperately needed in countries burdened with slavery – imagine what they could do.
Here is Sani’s whole story. I think when you read it, she’ll become your hero, too.