Today, the International Labor Organization (ILO) explains that forced labor in the private economy produces US $150 billion in illegal profits every year. It is the world’s most profitable crime with nearly 19 million victims globally. This is the story of Rani Hong.
My name is Rani Hong. I’m from a small village in the Southern region of India, Kerala. I was stolen from my family when I was seven-years-old and sold into slavery. I was taken to another state, where I did not know the language. I was terrified. A little girl with no one to answer my questions or dry my tears, abandoned and alone.
My treatment was so appalling that by age eight, my physical condition and emotional state were so dire that I was near death. No longer of any value to my slave owner, I was sold for international adoption into the United States.
I tell you my story today, because my case is not unique, there are millions of others out there – like me, imprisoned, enslaved, and silenced— who are unable to tell their story.
I am here today, serving as a voice for those who don’t have one – against modern day slavery and forced labor. Every day I work to raise the voice of survivors of slavery, to empower them and work with global leaders in the movement to end human trafficking.
One of the most memorable days in my efforts to get this issue on the international agenda was October 3, 2013. I remember it like it was yesterday, as I had the privilege of addressing the United Nations General Assembly, gathered in New York City for their 68th session. My hope was to raise awareness of the continued plight of millions of enslaved people throughout the world, and by drawing attention to their suffering and bring hope for new ways to pursue their freedom.
One way to accomplish this, I truly believe, is through the designation of a day being formally set aside in which the world recognizes these issues and that serves to remind the world of the need to protect the rights of victims of slavery, forced labor and human trafficking. I am pleased to report that my ask before the United Nations General Assembly was approved. July 30 will be forever known as the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.