All names are redacted and some details have been changed to protect the women's identities.
"My father rejected me because he was ashamed of me, after someone abused me sexually. Later on my entire family abandoned me and I ended up in prostitution."
The words are Alicia's. She fled her home country and joined a relative in Europe, but after losing her job as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, she found herself in a vulnerable situation again and was lured to Sweden by an older woman who promised her a job. Once there, Alicia was forced into prostitution and endured rape and psychological violence. One day, the police in southern Sweden raided the house and arrested two pimps who were detained pending trial.
Alicia participated in the police interrogation and subsequent trial, which eventually led to the perpetrators being sentenced to prison. Having no other means of support, Alicia returned to prostitution, but a caring police officer continued to keep in touch with her and persuaded her to contact Talita.
Alicia took part in our one-year rehabilitation program and enthusiastically participated in everything from Swedish classes to internships. Today, she is doing well and her dream is to go to university, preferably to study law.
Rita was lured to Sweden from a poor country with the promise of a job as a cleaner, but instead of a cleaning job, a life of utter misery awaited her where she was forced to sell her body, night after night, to sex buyers under threat.
Some of the men mocked and abused her, calling her a 'cheap slut'. One night, we met her after the police asked us to come to an apartment where they were conducting a raid. Rita listened when we told her that help was available, but was scared and refused. A few months later, the police found her again - and this time she dared to accept Talita's help.
Rita moved into one of our shelters and joined the program. In the beginning she was afraid that the traffickers would seek out her mother in her home country and punish her for her daughter's escape from them, but when nothing happened and her mother was fine, Rita was able to land and focus on her own inner healing.
Some time ago we celebrated the end of her year with us, and when she received her diploma and flowers, we came face to face with a completely different girl than the one we met that night when she arrived. Rita is a great person, a real fighter, and she has already got her first job.