A 10-year-old schoolgirl has been rescued from a horrendous cycle of sexual abuse after people living nearby were trained to spot the signs of slavery by Hope for Justice.
The girl, Anita*, was turned into a slave by a relative who exploited her vulnerabilities on a regular basis. Anita became increasingly withdrawn and was in pain as a result of her abuse. Her plight was uncovered by neighbors in the community where she lives – a village in rural Uganda – after they received training from global anti-trafficking charity Hope for Justice on how to recognise the indicators of exploitation.
Police carried out a raid on the family home in response to their concerns, and rescued the girl in November. Officers referred Anita to one of Hope for Justice’s Lighthouses – a safe haven for children who have been abused and exploited, or who have been vulnerable to exploitation.
A police chief at the Ugandan Children and Family Protection Unit said: “We have no facilities to shelter these vulnerable children and so Hope for Justice is the organisation we depend on for their care and protection. We are incredibly thankful for everything that they are doing.”
Hope for Justice’s team of trained professionals are providing trauma-informed care and psychotherapy sessions to help with her recovery. Anita has received medical care for physical injuries that she sustained during the abuse, and is also attending counselling sessions.
She has also been attending lessons at Hope for Justice’s Shine School at the Lighthouse, an education and career centre for children and young people who have been exploited. She is being given access to life skills, including personal hygiene and health, as well as attending classes alongside peers.
Today, her life is so different. Anita said: “I hope to become a doctor when I am older. I am glad I will never go back to that home.”
*Name changed to protect identity.