Acton Institute Powerblog

‘Destitute And Dying:’ A Human Trafficking Survivor’s Story

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

Rani Hong was a very young girl in rural India when her life was snatched away from her by human trafficking. In desperation, her mother allowed her to be taken away by a woman she thought she could trust, a woman who promised to care for Rami. And she did, for a while. However, the lure of money was too great and Rami was sold into human trafficking at age seven.

I was taken to an area where I did not know the language, where everyone was a stranger,” Hong recalls. “I cried for my mom to come and get me – that’s all a seven-year-old mind can understand.” Traumatized, she stopped eating and became physically and mentally ill. “My captors labeled me ‘destitute and dying,’ meaning that I had no value in the forced child labor market.” The only way the traffickers could profit from her, Hong explains, was to put her up for illegal international adoption. Trafficked into Canada, she was beaten, starved, and caged – “seasoned for submission,” in the parlance of her captors. A photo of her at age eight shows an emaciated little girl with prominent bruises on her arms and legs, whose eyes are swollen nearly shut. “I couldn’t even talk,” she says. “I had completely shut down.”

There is redemption in Hong’s story. She was eventually adopted by a woman in Canada (whose adoption agency was unknowingly working with traffickers). Her loving mother made sure Rani felt safe, teaching her to play; Rani eventually excelled at soccer, a game that she says gave her confidence.

Rani now runs the Tronie Foundation with her husband (also a human trafficking survivor), an organization that educates the public about human trafficking and supports survivors in more than 20 countries through mentorship programs and services that allow for healing.

Trafficking of humans violates not only the dignity of each person that it touches, it affects rule of law, economies and jobs. At $32 billion dollars a year and growing, it is second only to the illegal drug trade in global criminal activity.

Read more of Rani Hong’s story at The Rotarian Magazine.

Elise Hilton Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.


  • Aleteia

    There is also trafficking for prostitution, when are we going to deal with the drama of women from Eastern Europe? I hope the Pope will not forget them in his prayers!

    • I’ve written pretty extensively about human trafficking here on the Acton PowerBlog, both in the U.S. and globally. I hope we’ve given an even-handed review of the international issue.

  • Nathan Barton

    Why do you use weasel words like “human trafficking” when this is nothing but slave trading? Slave trading should be considered the capital crime that it is, and the death penalty should be administered to ALL parties involved (except the slave, of course) as quickly as possible. This is an evil that has been with us since people came down from the mountains of Ararat, and unless it is fought against constantly, it is never under control. The excuse for slavery, whether it is prostitution or “adoption” or whatever, is only an excuse and should not distract from the evil of trying to own another person’s body and soul and spirit. Why not simply speak the truth?

    • Nathan, “human trafficking” is the catch-all phrase used by those who work in this arena for the “sale” of human beings for any type of coerced work: factory work, migrant/farm work, prostitution, etc. Yes, it is slavery. However, for years, many people refused to see prostitution and sex work as coerced – women simply “chose” that life for one reason or another. By linking prostitution with the term “human trafficking,” we’ve been able to shed more light on this issue.

      Human trafficking is the modern-day slavery, but since “slavery” (for most people) conjures up images of something that no longer exists, the newer term is more effect. It is the truth.