High-pitched screams rang out as 14 ecstatic young women ran off a field hockey pitch in late February 2018, with bronze medals clutched in each of their hands. They had just cinched a 7-1 victory to claim third place in their state tournament.
Amongst these champions, one player has a story of triumph all her own: 18-year-old Pavi* has grown from the despair of the sex industry to the joys of a successful young athlete—and today she’s dreaming even bigger for her future.
When she was a young girl, Pavi was orphaned and became the property of a woman who operated a brothel in her house. Pavi was forced to clean the house all day long as women and girls were sold for sex in the dingy rooms around her. Little did Pavi know, she was being groomed for the same fate.
In 2007, local police and IJM staff conducted a rescue operation to free a young teen from the brothel. While searching the house, they discovered 8-year-old Pavi in one of the rooms, terrified and alone. Pavi was freed before she could be sexually exploited or abused.
After her rescue from the brothel, Pavi spent the next ten years in aftercare homes healing from her feelings of abandonment and fear. With the help of IJM social workers she is finding activities to channel her emotions and build her confidence.
Pavi says, “I have had some amazing and kind didis [sisterly term for IJM staff] who are social workers walking with me, encouraging me to pursue my dreams.”
Pavi’s main outlet has always been sports. She loved karate and soccer but was inspired by older girls at the aftercare home to play field hockey. At 10 years old, she marched right up to the hockey coach and demanded to play—and she hasn’t looked back since.
When she turned 18, Pavi had the chance to join a junior professional field hockey team. In August of 2017, her team won first place in the local women’s league; a tremendous boost to her confidence. She was selected for the senior district team in early 2018 and worked hard to help them secure third place overall at their first major tournament.
"As the crowd cheered for my teammates and me...I couldn't stop smiling."
Pavi now dreams of becoming a professional athlete. She says she’s found a new sense of belonging thanks to her teammates and the IJM social workers who support her.
It is Pavi’s hope to one day represent India internationally. She is full of confidence and dreams for her future.
Globally, there are an estimated one million children exploited in sex trafficking**. Thankfully, Pavi was freed before she could be abused and exploited because of supporters like you.
Will you give today to help us bring rescue to children trapped in the darkness of slavery and violence?
* A pseudonym
**A recent mailing of Pavi's story stated 3.8 million children are exploited in sex trafficking. This was incorrect. 3.8 million people are exploited in sex trafficking, but 1 million of them are children.