Mala was trafficked into one of the most brutal brothels that International Justice Mission [which I, Bethany, help lead] had ever encountered. The lead trafficker was powerful, wealthy, and deeply connected to a wide network of other traffickers in the underground world of rape for profit. He stopped at nothing to keep the girls in his brothel under his power. Some of his victims witnessed him murdering another girl simply to give a warning, lest they resist his will. If ever there was a human being I would be tempted to believe is unreachable by the grace of God, it would be this man.
Like all of the new girls, Mala was raped by the trafficker as her initiation into what she would be required to endure every day. The trafficker made his power clear to each of the girls in his brothel; one of the girls recalled him bragging, “I can even rape a girl and get away with it; that is how much power I have. I will never be put in jail.” Indeed, he believed he was invincible.
Mala and the other girls worked around the clock, raped by 10 to 20 men each day. If they tried to refuse a customer, they were tortured. When Mala attempted (and failed) to run away, she was viciously beaten. After a few months in the brothel, Mala became pregnant, but her trafficker beat her even then, using a metal pipe and kicking her stomach. Mala lost her baby.
What hope could we possibly hold on to for Mala? Where do we even begin to look for hope in the face of what she suffers? In the face of the millions of lives her own suffering mirrors? And what hope could we possibly hold for Mala’s trafficker?
The closer we get to suffering, the more the idea of hope can begin to appear as nothing more than just that—an idea, ...1