From child sex slave to activist: Woman turns into human trafficking campaigner - years after she was sold into sex trade by her PARENTS
Minh Dang says she was pimped out by her parents starting when she was just 10 years old
She now works as an advocate, joining forces with actress Jada Pinkett Smith and her nonprofit organization Don't Sell Bodies
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER and REUTERS REPORTER
PUBLISHED: 18:05 GMT, 23 December 2012 | UPDATED: 10:00 GMT, 24 December 2012
A California woman has turned to activism nearly a decade after she was held against her will in the world's most unforgiving industry by the two people who should have been shielding her from danger.
Minh Dang, 28, says she was just 10 years old when she was taken to a brothel for the first time by her parents, who would then leave her there for days - and sometimes weeks.
She says the pattern of mistreatment began when she was as young as three years old as she was subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of her father.
Victimized: Minh Dang says she was just 10 years old when she was taken to a brothel for the first time by her parents, who would then leave her there for days - and sometimes weeks
The woman claimed that her parents worked together, collecting money while their daughter worked as a child prostitute.
Ms Dang told NBC Bay Area: 'They actually recruited people, so my mom placed ads in Vietnamese newspapers and magazines.'
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'My dad took me to these businesses, they were cafes, and they were fronts for brothels. He would take me to brothels and leave me there for weeks on end, and brothels sell children for sex so that was my job while I was there.'
While her parents pimped her out by night, she excelled as a student by day, earning high marks and excelling on the soccer team in Los Altos, California - keeping her dark side a secret.
Dark secret: While her parents pimped her out by night, she excelled as a student by day, earning high marks and excelling on the soccer team in Los Altos, California
Her gym teacher, Bonny Ellegood, told NBC Bay Area: 'She went above and beyond in everything she did,' Ms Ellegood said.
Ms Dang added: 'My choir and orchestra teacher in middle school thought something was up, but I don’t think could have guessed this was up because I was a straight-A student, I wasn’t your typical delinquent kid.'
After high school, the hold her parents had on her life continued even as she attended college at Berkley - but it wasn't long before she escaped from their grasp.
Ms Dang told the station: 'The first two years I was going to college but was still enslaved. I was still being sold by my parents. Then they paid my final bill for college, and that’s when I cut all ties with them, that I would contact the police if they contacted me again, and then that was it.'
Hostage: Ms Dang was sent to brothels when she was 10, but the pattern of abuse began when she was as young as three years old
NBC Bay Area was able to track down Ms Dang's mother at her nail salon in Mountain View. While she refused to appear on camera, she rejected her daughters claims, saying that she never sold her daughter into the sex trade.
Today, Ms Dang works alongside Jada Pinkett-Smith - an outspoken advocate against sex trafficking - and the actress' non-profit Don't Sell Bodies.
Reuters reported earlier this month the age range for girls sold into sex slavery has become younger and younger because of the global economic crisis, and may have become worse due to the poor economy.
About 21 million people - or three out of 1,000 people globally - are in forced labor, meaning they have been coerced or deceived into jobs which they cannot leave, figures released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) this year showed.
Allies: Ms Dang now works alongside actress Jada Pinkett Smith, seen testifying before a congressional committee on human trafficking
The ILO said about 4.5 million of these, mainly women and girls, were victims of sexual exploitation and overall the human trafficking trade was estimated to be worth $32billion a year.
Ruchira Gupta, founder of Indian charity Apne Aap Women Worldwide, said: 'We are seeing the number rise in these 10 red light districts while the age of the girls is falling.'
Gupta added that the average age of female prostitutes in India was between nine and 13.
'We need to invest more in girls and women so that there are options other than prostitution, organ trade, or [becoming] child soldiers.'
While the ILO figures suggested modern-day slavery has risen to a record level, the data came with the caveat that it was hard to estimate numbers as victims were often scared to come forward and there was a lack of records in most countries.
Rising poverty was blamed for driving more women into the sex industry against their will.
David Batstone, president and co-founder of anti-trafficking organization Not For Sale, said the global financial crisis as well as political instability created vulnerable communities at risk of exploitation.
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