“It happened to my body and in your backyard”

An interview with a survivor of sexual slavery.

Shandra Woworuntu is a survivor of sex trafficking from Indonesia. She was 25 years old when the promise of a job lured her from Indonesia to the United States, where she was raped and forced into prostitution. She managed to escape and is now a spokeswoman against human trafficking.

I am the co-founder of the Nomi Network, a non-profit organization that creates job opportunities for survivors and women at risk of human trafficking in Asia. I asked Woworunto about her work as an anti-trafficking advocate and what she thinks about the hype around sex trafficking at the Super Bowl.

First, as a survivor and advocate for survivors, what motivates you? 

As a survivor, I give my voice to represent the voiceless. I want to share my faith and hope with other survivors and victims. I jumped from a second-floor small bathroom window to seek my freedom—this was a miracle in my life. It was God’s work at the right time to save my life because he knows I did not belong in that place. With my story, I want to educate people that modern slavery is real. It happened to my body and in your backyard.

Based on your experience and knowledge, do you think there is an increase of sex trafficking around the Super Bowl?

I believe there will be an increase in trafficking activities around the Super Bowl event, but is not specific to sex trafficking. There is another form of human trafficking that needs our attention: Labor trafficking. There is no specific research or report on whether sex trafficking is increasing more than labor mostly because labor trafficking is under-reported.

The trafficker always stands near them and they will not able to ask for help because of the fear of death or a loved one’s death.

Why do you think there is so much hype around trafficking at the Super Bowl? 

Sporting events like the Super Bowl can draw trafficker attention because they know many men come together without family to New Jersey and they want to have some fun drinking, partying, and having sex. But this strategy is probably changing because of the awareness around preventing trafficking at the Super Bowl. But don’t forget that trafficking happens all the time, not only around big sporting events, and not only for sex, but also labor.

Do you know anyone who has been trafficked for labor or sex around sporting events?

I was trafficked in many brothels, casinos and hotels. I was isolated and I didn’t know exactly if there were sporting events. But I do believe many sex- and labor-trafficking survivors were trafficked near sporting events. The trafficker always stands near them and they will not able to ask for help because of the fear of death or a loved one’s death. This crime is hidden; it cannot be seen with plain sight.

Do you have any advice for those attending the Super Bowl and how they can help fight sex trafficking?

Watch and pay attention to your surroundings. Be prepared and bring the hotline number with you in case you see suspicious activity, and please report to NHTRC at 1-888-373-7888. Or call 911. Make sure you are involved in this work. We need to protect and help the victims, especially young children.

About

Diana Mao Diana is the co-founder of Nomi Network, a non-profit organization that creates economic opportunities for at-risk women and survivors of human trafficking.

Read More Articles

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

noplaceonearth
An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

shutterstock_148333673
Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

shutterstock_53190298
Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

shutterstock_185995553
How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

HIFR
Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.