Jenny Meizas is a Venezuelan woman who was kidnapped while walking one evening and transported to a sex trafficking ring located in the Bahamas.
She endured daily rape and torture, but managed to obtain a cell phone and post a video on Twitter. The authorities saw the video and raided the house, rescuing her and the other victims.
Meizas talks about her story to bring awareness to the tragedy of human trafficking.
The pandemic generated by the spread of COVID-19 has increased the exposure of vulnerable populations to human trafficking and has put the authorities to the test, according to experts who participated in a recent virtual dialogue on Trafficking in Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Mauricio Claver-Carone, president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), affirmed the increase in the number of victims detected and traffickers convicted. The majority of victims are women and girls.
He has indicated that human trafficking “is the third most lucrative business for organized crime, after drug trafficking and counterfeiting” and generates “150,000 million dollars a year, of which 12,000 correspond to Latin America and the Caribbean.” Likewise, he added, two-thirds correspond to sexual exploitation.
He warned about impunity, as he pointed out that for each case detected, there are at least 20 undetected, and that it is necessary to “strengthen security and justice capacities to continue trafficking,” as well as cooperate with jobs and provide accompaniment to victims during the judicial process.
NASSAU, Bahamas — While most of my memories of being kidnapped and trafficked have disappeared from my mind, I clearly recall the moment I was taken.
One night, I was out for a walk when I was grabbed from the street and placed in a car. I tried running, screaming, and crying out for help, but nothing stopped my kidnappers.
My whole world ended in a matter of minutes and my cries were like an echo.
I forgot that women are not safe alone at night and that the wicked can attack at any time; I became a victim of human trafficking.
As a woman, I was vulnerable and subjected to incredible abuse. Eventually, I cried out for help and managed to escape. I fled from the hell that held me captive.
Thank God I have a voice today, to tell the world what happened to me. I can talk about that place, where I was full of fear and suffering.
Venezuelan woman kidnapped, transported to the Bahamas
In the car, a string of faces passed through my mind like a film. I thought of my family, friends, and coworkers. I would probably never see them again.
After the car ride, they transported me to a private airplane. Thousands of questions echoed through my mind. Did anyone see anything? Is it common for people to be kidnapped in Venezuela? Was anyone coming to save me?
It was unfair and inconsistent to blame anyone but these people who were sick enough to take me by force. I fainted all the way to our destination. When I could finally open my eyes, I realized I was not in Venezuela anymore.
They took me out of my own country to a place where no one would ever find me; they took me to the Caribbean. More precisely, I was in the Bahamas.
I was so disoriented at first, it was hard to realize where I was. My kidnappers were big, bearded, broadly built men who went unnoticed. They taped my mouth and tied my hands to prevent me from doing anything.
My screams were silenced by the metallic tape over my mouth.
In fear, all I could do was cry. Movements were useless. I fell into a void, like an abyss coming towards me, and soon appeared lifeless.
All the movement and fierce anguish I felt made me want to vomit. Terror consumed me, wondering what was going to happen. I desperately wanted a hug from my mom, to hear the voices of my friends, and to sip on a coffee at work.
At that moment, I knew I was fighting for my life. I only had myself to count on and it was me against this tale of horror.
Takento a house of horrors disguised as a normal home
After the plane ride, we entered another car. It stopped suddenly and the men – if they can be called that – began to mutter. “What room are we taking her to,” they said. “You have to be discreet when getting out of the car, as always.”
That last sentence clarified that I was not the first or the last woman to be in this situation. They had done this before. I was just one more kidnapping out of many.
Desperate and still unsure what hell awaited me, I wondered how far their cruelty would go. My eyes were swollen from crying as they continually squeezed my arm and put more tape on my mouth. They overtook my every move. As I was able to focus, I tried opening my eyes more and more.
I saw that they were leading me towards an entrance. It looked like a normal house. The atmosphere was cold and unpleasant and the steps to the door felt like an eternity.
During that walk, they removed the tape from my mouth and the rope from my hands so we would go unnoticed. They told me if I screamed, they would kill me, so I made no sounds.
In what felt like a thousandth of a second, I turned my head looking for anyone or anything that was strange. The street was practically empty, but I saw something I will never forget: the address of the place.
The sign said “Villa 662.” I repeated it in my head without stopping so I wouldn’t forget. It was a critical piece of information.
Inside the home I saw armchairs and furniture. It looked like a living room at first glance, but then I understood, this room had windows facing the street. It was simulated to look like an ordinary house, but torture awaited.
I found myself in a long corridor full of doors that, I assumed were rooms. Throughout my transportation, I was constantly guarded so I could not make a movement, flee, or scream. Now I believed my life was lost and I would never escape this place.
They opened the door of the second-to-last room using the only key in their hands and shoved me inside, onto the bed. They closed the door behind me.
Trafficked in the Bahamas, I was subjected to constant, daily rape
I got up as best I could, crying and screaming, but no one heard me, and these men did not want to listen. I fumbled with the doorknob to no avail. There was one tiny window in the room for air to enter. There was only the bed.
Eventually, I resigned myself to the situation, but at that moment, I threw myself on the floor. I begged God to return me to my family, crying out for a sign.
Crying out to God, I said, “Our Father who art in heaven, please hear my prayers. I am far from my home, kidnapped, and terrified. In fear for my life, I want to be get out of here. There must be a way to escape. Deliver me from all this. Amen.”
All notion of time disappeared and every minute felt like an hour. The door to the room opened again and a man I had never seen entered. He didn’t say hello. Opening the door, he closed it again, locked it, forced me to undress, and began the worst of my torture.
He abused me and then left. It wasn’t long before some new stranger came in and the process repeated. More than five men came in a day and used me as if I were a garbage bag. They did whatever they wanted.
My body ached and my abdomen could not bear all the pain, much less my pelvic area. I was a product to satisfy the strangers who passed by my bed. My job was to give them pleasure. They used me continuously until I couldn’t take it anymore.
My soul broke as I tired of crying.
A fellow prisoner shares a phone and I send an SOS on Twitter
From time to time, those who managed me gave me breaks. During my first break, I realized I wasn’t the only woman kidnapped and put in that place. On the rare occasion when I could talk to them, I tried to obtain information.
We were, for the most part, young women in a small age range. We were labeled new girls and more experienced girls. The more experienced girls had long been captives.
Once, I exchanged words with a 25-year-old girl who looked very tired. She had dark circles under her eyes and her voice broke every time she spoke. “Where are we exactly,” I mumbled, hoping to get critical information.
She seemed afraid to say anything and looked at me, thinking deeply. I understood.
“I shouldn’t tell you,” she said, “I am taking a risk, but I think that if you can escape thanks to this, you will do what I could never do, which would leave me at peace with myself.”
Tears began to fall down her face until she finally spoke again.
“We are in the Bimini Islands, in the Bahamas. For your reference, we are behind the Hilton,” she confessed, and immediately grabbed my hand.
Tweeting out for help
I felt something hard in my palm and she leaned in close to my ear. “This was my cell phone. I was able to keep it hidden. I give it to you,” she said. “Try to run away and do what all of us couldn’t. You are on a timer.”
Immediately Jassie, as they called her, turned and left. I was paralyzed. I went from having no hope to having an excellent opportunity to escape. In all my life, I could never thank this woman.
I mentally prepared myself to create an escape plan. I did not have much time, as they would return me “to work” soon. Quickly, I opened my Twitter account and immediately wrote a few words there to attract the authorities.
I needed someone to read that tweet, my life depended on it. If this failed, there was nothing more to do, but I never stopped trusting the solidarity and empathy of good people.
I put the phone on silent so no one would hear the notifications and I went back into my room with another man following. The nights, especially the weekends, subjected us to a high volume of prostitution.
A hopeful cry and a police rescue
My chance finally came. I had less then a second to escape to a bathroom with the phone. I locked myself in and from Periscope, a Twitter application, I made a live video detailing everything I knew about where I was.
“Help, they are going to kill me,” I exclaimed, desperately, “My God. I am kidnapped in Bimini, Bahamas, behind the Hilton, Villa 662.”
In a live video, I begged someone to alert the authorities. I prayed for ransom. I couldn’t take another second of torture and abuse of my body.
During my imprisonment, I was repeatedly threatened with death if I did not do what they said. Even Carlos, one of my kidnappers, warned me that he would sell me to a ship about to set sail.
Every day, I asked incessantly to go back home. I needed to be with my family, to hug them, and to know that everything was okay. I did not realize everything was about to change.
Police arrive on the scene
A few hours after my plea for help on social media, the Bahamian police arrived. Everything worked. I was safe and I could not believe it.
When they rescued me, the authorities found me a safe, quiet place before taking me off the island, back to Venezuela. I saw the faces of my family and friends again. They were apprehensive; some of them confessed that they thought I was dead.
Getting out of that place was not luck. I was a woman who fell victim to trafficking. I was strong and fought with every breath. Life gave me another chance and I was reborn.
Unfortunately, this situation happens in many countries throughout the world. Many women do not live to tell about it. I raise my voice for all of them, and for the torture that I went through.
It was not easy and I suffered a lot, but I thank God and the police authorities that I am safe and sound. Today, I can say that I was not one more victim, but one less.
Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.
Daiana Stocco studies Social Communication. She currently writes articles of general interest in Latinamericanpost. She has experience in news writing and is about to launch her own blog to publish her poems and communication concepts.