To Those Whose Voices Aren’t Heard by Anh Nguyen '23

TW: sex trafficking, sexual abuse, rape, underage sex & marriage

You knew all of these might happen, but who do you have to blame?

When you turned 16, your parents said there was this very nice man from a very faraway land that wants to marry you. They said, he could change your life, bringing you food, keeping you warm, holding you when you’re sad, and making you feel happy. They said, he could make you a child, oh, the most wonderful, beautiful thing. The best thing you could be, a mom. The best thing you could ever imagine, a family.

You didn’t want to. Surely, leaving your parents here is a bad thing, right? Who’s gonna take care of them when they get sick? Who’s gonna take care of your younger siblings when your parents can no longer work? What about school? What about your friends? What about your dreams?

But the way your parents said about your future, about the beautiful houses, the fancy clothes, the glamorous, promising China, made you almost believe this might be a better future. Maybe it isn’t so bad. You just have to marry this very nice man. Even though you can’t speak his language. Even though you’ve never been to his faraway land. Even though you’re not sure how you’ll get back, or even, whether you will get back at all. You don’t know how you will handle all of these, but your parents said to you in a so soothing and reassuring voice that made you believe they would shield you from everything in this world.

And so, you marry this man.

He was not what you thought. He locked you up in a cage, as if you were an animal. He fed you just so you could fulfill his needs. He beat you, exploited you, raped you as he pleased. You had no one to turn to, no one who understand, no one to beg for help. You were stuck in this nightmare that, strange enough, your most beloved ones pushed you in. You didn’t know what is real, anymore. But he was not a nice man; that is what you are sure of. You couldn’t understand why your parents said so. He was not a nice man.

In the end, some actually nice people found you. They rescued you from the man and brought you back to your family. You suddenly became an inspiring story, a story about a strong girl who fought back and escaped from sex trafficking. You know that was wrong. You are not inspiring for being a victim of sex trafficking. You are not inspiring for fighting back. Every girl fights back. And even if girls don’t, don’t we all deserve to come back? You were just lucky that someone found you.

What about the other girls who weren’t so lucky?

Someone blamed you for your stupidity. Said you deserved that because you were greedy and delusional. Said you deserved that because you couldn’t protect your own self. Said you deserved that because you seduced the man. Said you deserved that because you were your parents’ child, you were supposed to bring them money. You didn’t believe all of these, at first, but when something is repeated over and over and over again, it becomes real.

You knew all of these might happen, but who do you have to blame?

To those whose voices aren’t heard.