It was like any other day, Bianca was working at her dad’s bar tending to locals and tourists alike, serving jars of refreshing Caipirinha near the massive Rio De Janeiro shoreline. She was an ambitious 18-year-old opportunist full of wonder and determination. Bianca’s smile was almost bigger than her petite, bronzed frame, and she was strong. Strong willed and physically capable of taking care of herself.
This particular day, a professional looking woman came in alone and sat at a table near the bar and ordered the specialty. She made small talk with Bianca and noticed her exotic beauty and flowing black hair and she especially recognized how well she pleased the customers.
Bianca passed by the woman’s table and asked, “você gostaria de outro?” (Would you like another one?)
The woman replied, “Não obrigado,” and as Bianca turned to walk away, she gently reached for Bianca’s arm. Bianca turned around and looked worried as if she missed something. The woman asked, “do you like to travel?”
Bianca’s eyes lit up and told her how she wants to. That she dreams of it but she has a new baby at home. Adorning her with compliments, she indulged that her team opened a new cafe in Spain and would love to bring girls in internationally to run it. Reminding Bianca that a handsome salary and an opportunity to travel to Spain would not come along often. All Bianca would have to do is pay back the travel expenses over a period of time.
Bianca said yes and recommended another girl to do it with her. Within a couple of weeks, the plans were made. The woman brought them to the airport and both girls were given very special instructions; where to sit on the airplane, who to look for once they landed, and no matter what, they must stick together.
The Galeão International Airport exhaled adventure and Bianca was mesmerized. As planes flew in and out, Bianca decided to call an old friend that she hadn’t seen in a long time. This friend has also travelled to Spain so she wanted to tell her that she was going too and find out all the things she should know like where to go, what to see, and other recommendations.
The friend answered and Bianca said, “Hello, it’s Bianca! Guess what?
Her friend was happy and surprised to hear from Bianca, “Oi, Tudo Bem?”
Bursting with excitement Bianca skipped telling her friend how she was doing rather blurted out, “I’m going to Spain!” She started rambling off the details and suddenly her friend interrupted, “Wait! Who invited you to go?”
She responded and told her about the friendly woman from the bar. Once again, with a loud voice, her friend said, “Stop! I know that woman. She is the same woman who sent me and I was sex trafficked. I got away!”
“Don’t get on the plane Bianca, don’t do it!”
Bianca was confused, processing this terrifying information. The friend described the woman to a “T” and gave Bianca new instructions.
“Here is what you need to do. Do you have any other clothes with you?”
“Yes of course,” Bianca replied.
“Okay, they will be looking for your red shirt and khaki pants, go in the bathroom and change your clothes. Take your pony tail out and change anything else you can think of. If you have jewelry on take it off. As soon as you land separate from your friend because the men will be searching for two girls together. Don’t look around, grab your bag and get in a taxi. Do not look at your friend or speak with her until you see each other at an agreed meeting place.”
“Bianca, do you understand?”
“Yes, yes, I do!”
She still wanted to travel and had a free ticket so Bianca got on the plane and flew to Spain. She did exactly what her friend suggested. The two men that the woman from the bar described were there and she walked right by them without a hitch.
Bianca escaped that trafficking ring but after some time in Spain, she wanted to see more of Europe. She moved to Germany and began working at a nightclub. She met a man who was fun and had a plethora of hookups and seemed to bring in more money for her.
Bianca never intended to stay in Spain or Germany. She only wanted to explore and satisfy her curiosity. But, had Bianca walked right into another trap? It wasn’t long before she realized that he had taken her passport, Identification, and money. Still young but even more wise, she continued to dance and serve drinks to all the tourists and nightlife crowd but most importantly, she became good friends with the bartender who just so happened to be in charge of the Safe.
The safe that held cash and a WHOLE lot of passports and ID’s.
Bianca watched girl after girl become paralyzed by drugs and numb to the ways of this sick world she had never seen before. Not her, she needed to get home to her baby and would do whatever it took. It ended up taking longer than she wanted, nearly a year, but eventually she convinced her friend to go into the safe when nobody was looking and retrieve her items.
“Please, I’m begging you!” Bianca pleaded. ‘I want to go home. I’ll give you money. Anything you want, Please! We can make it look like a robbery.”
Eventually, her friend obliged. While her boyfriend was busy and away from the club, Bianca took her passport and ID, all her cash she had been saving and went straight to the airport. She’s never been back to Europe since.
Bianca is healthy, successful, and married with two daughters. Many stories don’t end like hers. Many women and young girls are either sold by their families or innocently walk into what they think is an opportunity of a lifetime to only find themselves falling victim to something many of us don’t think about; being sex trafficked.