In 2001, Flor Molina became a victim of slavery in the garment industry in Los Angeles. She was an easy target: a desperate motherliving in Mexico who had just lost her baby because she didn't have the money to hospitalize her sick child.
This is her Story:
After my baby died, I got so depressed and worried that what happened to my baby could happen to my other three children. I was taking sewing classes in hopes of starting my own business and earn enough money to take care of my children. My sewing teacher was approached by a trafficker because she knew a lot of women who knew how to sew and would be desperate to come to the United States. I was happy to take up the offer of work .
I had to leave my mom and my children behind. I was told that when I got to the U.S. I will have a job so I could send money home, food and a place to stay.
When I arrived in Los Angeles, I quickly realized it had all been a lie. My trafficker told me that now I owe her almost $3,000 and that I had to work for her in order to pay her back.
I was forced to work 18 hours a day making dresses that were being sold for $200 department stores. When all the workers in the factory got to go home, I had to clean the factory. I was forced to sleep at the factory in a storage room and I had to share a single mattress with another victim. The other workers in the factory were able to come and go at the end of their shift. I was forbidden to talk to anyone or from putting one step outside of the factory. I worked hard and I was always hungry. I was given only one meal a day and I had 10 minutes to eat. If I took longer, I was punished. After only a few weeks of being there, one of my co-workers started suspecting that something was not right. She had realized that I was always there in the morning when she got there and was working at night after everybody left. She gave me her phone number on a piece of paper, and told me that if I needed help, I could call her.
I thought I was going to die. I thought I would never see my children again. I was sick with worry about how my children were in Mexico and how they didn't know what happened to me.
After weeks of begging my trafficker to let me go to church, she finally let me go. The moment I set foot outside the factory, I decided not to go back andI went to a pay phone to call my co-worker who kindly came and picked me up and took me to a restaurant.
FBI agents who were already investigating my trafficker found me and they connected me with CAST (a non-profit group). CAST found me shelter and helped me with all my basic necessities because I had nothing when I escaped. Ultimately, my trafficker was charged with labour abuse and got a light sentence - only 6 months of house arrest.
Since regaining my freedom I have had many challenges. Although I was enslaved 9 years ago, my trafficker is still after me and my family.