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Human trafficking or sex slavery may conjure up images of young children in third world countries, or something that only happens in seedy red light districts, but sex slavery survivor Shandra Woworuntu says sex trafficking is happening all around us. Sometimes it’s even happening right in our own neighborhoods.

In this month’s edition of Asian American Life, Woworuntu recalls her horrific journey to the United States and how she wound up as a trafficking victim. In 1998 she lost her job as a financial analyst in her homeland of Indonesia. She paid a recruiter $3000 to find her a job in the United States. Shortly thereafter, she received a job offer from a hotel in Chicago, making $5000 a month as a waitress. She took the job with the plan to return back home after a few months to raise her young daughter, who she would leave behind with her mother.

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