Human trafficking is making modern-day
slaves out of millions of vulnerable children.
Mya is a young girl from Myanmar who was
sold by her mother and forced into child
labor. This is her story.*
My name is Mya Islam and I am 11 years old. When I was 7, my mother asked me if I
wanted to sell flowers. I said “yes” because I wanted to help earn money for our family.
That’s when she sold me to a stranger for 3,000 Baht [about $96 US]. He promised my
mother he would send her more money from my earnings every three months.
The man put me on the back of a crowded truck and drove me from my home in
Myanmar all the way to Bangkok, Thailand. Of the 20 people on the truck with me, I
soon realized I was the only child. Terrified, I crawled to the furthest corner to hide.
Finally, too tired to keep my eyes open, I fell asleep.
When we arrived in Bangkok, I was taken from house to house until I finally met my
employer—a woman who told me she had paid 10,000 Baht for me.
My job would be to sell roses in a popular bar in Bangkok. Night after night I would
leave the house at 9, sell about 100 roses all through the night, and return home
around 6 the next morning.
The nights were long and I would get very tired. I cried a lot. I missed my family.
Sometimes when I would go to the bar, people would buy all of my flowers at once.
They said that children shouldn’t have to work and that I should go home. The first
time this happened I was shocked. I thought it was normal for children to work.
But others told me I was lucky. While boys who were sold would be put to work in a
job like mine, most girls who were sold were taken to brothels in Malaysia.
In spite of what they said, I didn’t feel lucky. I thought about trying to escape, but I
didn’t dare . . .