I was just recently in Cambodia meeting front line charities involved in rescuing and restoring young girls sold into the sex trade, meeting many of the girls, and seeing up close the poverty that creates this vile practice.

One of these amazing charities is Destiny Rescue, an internationally-recognised Christian non-profit organisation dedicated to rescuing children trapped in the sex trade. I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Todd Morrison, the Country Manager, who has been doing this work for about seven years, touring their facility and seeing the girls learning new skills to make them self-sufficient. I saw happy faces, full of hope and pride in what they were learning, and I knew with the right resources, and unbounded love, a hopeless situation can be turned around.

I am aperson who was fortunate to be raisedby loving parents and I treasure my memories of being a little girl in pretty dresses, sharing an ice cream with her and her taking my breath away as she told me stories. This is something my mum and my dad do every day to the girl child inside this body of a young woman – they take my breath away.

However, before meeting Destiny Rescue,I had read another kind of article describing a girl child. This one features on the website of Destiny Rescue. Instead of describing a little girl running outside and marvelling at the design of her dress as she swirls, this article talks about one with eyes bowed and small clasped hands. Why did the article describe this little girl as being “shrouded in shadows of shame, cultural oppression and helplessness?” She was only seven years old, after all. That’s too young to retain a firm grasp on concepts like shame. But now, after my visit to this beautiful and tragic land, it all makes sense. Of course, this article was describing the survivors of child sex trafficking, rescued from a childhood bound to this monstrous fate. This is how these little girls are — instead of running and playing with the fairies, they curl themselves up in a ball as their fairies have long been destroyed.

I blink back tears as I reflect on the glaring difference between these little girls. Taking into account language and cultural difference, there should be no other disparity — yet there is and it’s huge! Destiny Rescue goes on to describe that, once rescued, these little girls go to sleep for days. It’s like they are renewing their tarnished souls. They have a lot of healing to do, and sleep is when much of the growth occurs. As these little girls are helped on their road to recovery, they will create a new identity that is free of suffering and fear.

I had the opportunity to reflect how far we lucky ones have come as women, but also to think more of the plight of those little girls sold to the sex trafficking trade. Those little girls who I describe not as ‘victims’ but as ‘survivors.’