LIFT International operates programs as part of Hagar International. Learn more about the merger here.
Fai’s harrowing story of trafficking ultimately ended in freedom through justice with her brave testimony and LIFT International’s dedicated support.
Fai* grew up in a hill tribe village in Northern Thailand. “We didn’t have much,” she says. “But we had some, and I was happy.” Her dad made and sold charcoal and her mom was a day laborer. Paying school fees for the four kids in the family was a challenge. Fai went to school inconsistently, taking days off to help her parents at work. Eventually, she stopped going altogether and started working full-time to make money to feed herself and have some to send her family. The money she sent home provided for her sister to stay in school.
When she was 15 years old, someone asked her to come serve drinks at a karaoke bar. They paid for her to get to the bar and set her up to live nearby. It seemed like a great offer. Fai was shocked when she learned that she was expected to sell sex. She remembers feeling like she was going to faint.
“I didn’t have another option,” she says. “The karaoke bar owner had paid for everything and I needed to pay them back.”
Fai was severely traumatized by the sexual abuse she endured working at the karaoke bar. Even though she was released after a few months, her traffickers evaded justice for five years.
“It was really hard to live my life, to start life after that,” she remembers. “I didn’t feel valued. Even if other people don’t know my story, I know my story. I feel like I’m dirty. I was embarrassed with my parents, I was embarrassed even alone with myself.”
Fai’s case was referred to LIFT five years ago. Pik, LIFT’s attorney helped Fai sue her trafficker for civil compensation. Pik walked Fai through the court process and supported her as she testified in front of her traffickers.
“When I had to tell my story of my abuse to court, I was so proud of myself that I could claim justice for myself. I finished something that was really important.”
Through Fai’s courage and LIFT’s dedication, Fai won US$8,000 in compensation and her trafficker got sentenced to eight years in jail.
*The name Fai is a name we use to protect her real identity. Fai’s whole story can be found on the LIFT International website.