Labor Repose

Labor Repose
LaborPayne during her 6th homebirth (9th baby) at age 44

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sex Slave

Yesterday, I was following a lactation consultant as a part of my studies. She was doing her usual round of seeing new mothers and helping them get their babies on the breast, when we received a page to go to the pediatric clinic. This was not too unusual. She often received pages from the pediatricians in the clinic when they had new moms back for baby weights or infant exams and there were breastfeeding issues. So we finished up with the patient we were seeing on the unit, and headed down to the clinic.

When we arrived, I immediately recognized the patient as someone I saw last week, when she was still an inpatient. I remembered her well because she had had a fourth degree tear and could not sit without discomfort. This time the father of her baby was with her, and I immediately began to get 'a dark and sinister vibe'. The young mother, in her early 20s was obviously from some eastern European country from her accent, and the 'father' was in his late 40s, early 50s, American, and from a part of town known mainly for its gross of per capita meth labs. If the whole look of it didn't freak me out enough, the young girl was visibly shaking the entire time we were in the room. I've seen lots of nervous new moms, but her hands were visibly shaking with fear as the lactation consultant helped her nurse her baby.

Horrible, terrible thoughts went through my mind. Thoughts like, "Where is this girl from and why is she with this old man?" "Is she with him willingly?" "Has she been forced?"
But it got worse.

After the visit, the lactation consultant responded to my many questions. The girl appeared to be a 'Russian mail order bride" except there were no wedding rings (I looked) and I didn't believe she was from Russia (Belarus or Romania perhaps). The couple had an open social service case due to 'perineal bruising' discovered during prenatal care. Nursing staff had charted her unusual appearance when she came for care: pigtails with cropped tops and short shorts in advanced pregancy. All this information made me sick to my stomach. I wish I hadn't asked.

The lactation consultant thought the girl was to be discharged to a women's shelter when she left the hospital and was surprised to see her going home with the father of the baby. She made another follow up appointment to 'keep an eye on her' though the breastfeeding was improving. I'm still shaken by this encounter. Horrible thoughts about this girl invade my mind. I know help has been offered, but she has yet to take it. The pediatric visits will soon end, and so too may the social service case. If help doesn't come to this girl and her baby soon, it may not come.

I know a little about human trafficking because my son did a summer intership with an organizations that works to eradicate it. I also know that I live in a medium sized city with a very diverse population and that its location is a crossroads for the entire country. I know that drugs move through my city at an alarming rate, and that there are people here who are poor and desperate. What I didn't know was that during the course of a regular work day, I would cross paths with a woman who was very likely a victim of human trafficking in the sex trade- and that I would feel so helpless as to what to do about it.

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Anonymous said...

She probably thinks she'll go to jail for prostitution if she says anything. If you can (yourself, or via someone else who will have contact with her), tell her that by telling what she knows, she will be saving other girls from her fate, and that the men involved will get punished, not the girls who are caught in such slavery.


LaborPayne said...

My husband also pointed out that she thought she might be deported as well. Who knows what the FOB told her would happen if she reports. Having a baby now certainly gives him more leverage. Unfortunately, she did not show at her appointment yesterday.

Anonymous said...

So sad! Yes, she may be deported, and that makes it even worse - to choose to live in abuse in America, rather than live... somehow else in your own country. I don't usually think violent thoughts, but thinking of a man abusing a woman, and keeping her as a sex slave, makes me want to do to him what he's done to her. :-(