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Meet Saithan
March 8, 2024

When Saithan’s father was arrested, it upended her entire life. The stability in her world was shattered. Without him, she and her mother were, as she put it, “living hand to mouth. It was a very difficult time.”

Compounding the financial and emotional hardship at home, Saithan was bullied by her peers at school. Instead of being a safe place to turn to in coping with the absence of her father, she was stigmatized and ostracized for circumstances she had no control over.

She says: 

“I didn’t like to be around other kids anymore. I preferred to be alone. It made me feel bad about myself that I had so many issues and no one to talk to.” 

We have a short 5-minute video where Saithan shares her story, and we would love for you to watch it to hear from her directly what her circumstances were like – we encourage you to stick around for the ending; it’s really worth seeing! 


If you would like to support at-risk children like Saithan, please consider a donation. Click here to give!

We’re sharing Saithan’s video with you today because it’s International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is “Inspiring Inclusion.” Saithan’s story is so important because her case is an example of how exclusion adds to the risk young people face when they are vulnerable to traffickers, online sexual predators, and other kinds of abuse and exploitation.

You probably already know that trafficking risk is rarely about abductions and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you’ve been following our work, you probably know that the root causes of child trafficking are closely related to problems of gender inequality. Poverty, disparities in education, and gender-based violence all put young women and girls at risk of becoming trafficked. Ensuring women and girls access to education and economic empowerment are critical to preventing trafficking.

However, if we truly want to engage deeply with the issue and understand how children become at risk, it is important to point out that trafficking risk is rarely only about risk factors like poverty. Trafficking doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it happens in a context where multiple risks add up to a tipping point. In so many heart-wrenching cases, there is a pathway where a child becomes exposed to predators, and they are vulnerable to the predators’ promises because of exclusion. They are vulnerable because they are excluded from the things that would keep them more safe.

Saithan was at risk of trafficking because her family could barely afford food, let alone her schooling, leaving her exposed to a trap of dropping out of school and falling even further behind economically.

She was also at risk of becoming trafficked because she felt there was no one to turn to with her problems. Online predators use feelings like these and promise to be someone who will love and support them no matter what. They encourage further isolation from family and friends by being “the only person they can talk to, the only person who truly understands them.” With low self-esteem and a low sense of self-worth, children like Saithan can be manipulated to lower their boundaries of privacy and encouraged to engage in riskier and riskier behavior. This process is called “grooming.” 

Protecting her involved providing a scholarship to help keep her in school. It also involved a safe and caring relationship with a mentor who could help her feel that she had someone to support her through this dark and difficult time. Her mentor helped her to know that she was not alone.

Inclusion is so important, not just because it helps advance a world where everyone feels safe and welcome. It’s a critical form of protection from so many societal ailments – and child trafficking is one of them.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us remember that true gender equality is about inclusion. Every child deserves to feel valued and safe.