I recently finished the book “Sold” by Patricia McCormick. It is a novel told from the viewpoint of a young thirteen year old girl Lakishma that has been sold into sex-trafficking. She is from a small village in Nepal and is taken across the boarder into India. McCormick has clearly done some good research because she comes up with some spot-on illustrations and tells this very difficult story in a captivating way. I want to give you just a couple excerpts:
**These have some graphic content**
EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW
Before today, Ama says, you could run as free as a leaf in the wind.
Now, she says, you must carry yourself with modesty, bow your head in the presence of men, and cover yourself with your shawl.
Never look a man in the eye.
Never allow yourself to be alone with a man who is not family.
And never look at growing pumpkins or cucumbers when you are bleeding.
Otherwise they will rot.
Once you are married, she says, you must eat your meal only after your husband has had his fill. Then you may have what remains.
If he burps at the end of the meal, it is a sign that you have pleased him.
If he turns to you in the night, you must give yourself to him, in the hopes that you will beat him a son.
If you have a son, feed him at your breast until he is four.
If you have a daughter, feed her at your breast for just a season, so that your blood will start again and you can try once more to bear a son.
If your husband asks you to wash his feet, you must do as he says, then put a bit of the water in your mouth.
I ask Ama why. “Why,” I say, “must women suffer so?”
“This has always been our fate,” she says.
“Simply to endure,” she says, “is to triumph.”
LUCKY TO BE WITH HABIB
A man with lips like a fish comes into my room and says, “You’re lucky to be with Habib.” He is squeezing my breast with his hand, like someone shopping for a melon. I try to push him away, but my arm, stone-heavy from the drugged lassi, doesn’t move.
“You’re lucky,” he says, “that Habib is your first one.”
I close my eyes. The room pitches this way and that.
“You can tell the others that it was Habib,” he says.
I open my eyes, watch him squeeze my other breast, and wonder: Who is this Habib he keeps talking about?
“If this is really your first time,” he says. “Old Mumtaz is a tricky one.”
He unbuckles his belt. “Once before, she sold Habib used goods.
The fish-lips man removes my dress.
I wait for myself to protest. But nothing happens.
“Habib,” he says. “Habib is good with the ladies.”
The he is on top of me, and something hot and insistent is between my legs.
He grunts and struggles, trying to fit himself inside me.
With a sudden thrust I am torn in two.
“Oh, yes,” he says, panting. “Habib is good in bed.”
I hear, coming from a distance, a steady thud,
and register that this is the sound of a headboard hitting a wall.
After a while,
I don’t know how long,
another sound interrupts the rhythmic thud of the headboard.
I know this noise from somewhere.
I work very hard to make it out.
Finally, I identify it.
It is the muffled sound of sobbing.
Habib rolls off me.
Then I understand: I was the person crying.