This summer we look back at the big stories of the year around the world and closer to home. This story was part of our Not for Sale series in October. Millions of girls across Asia are being sold into prostitution, forced into child labour, and married against their will. Over two weeks the Herald and World Vision told their stories so you can make a difference.

Hnin's story of abduction, slavery and eventual escape deserves to be made into a feature film. You don't want to believe that one person could endure so much and survive.

But her broken bones, her calm recitation of facts - lacking hyperbole and embroidery - and the fact that her traffickers are before the court right now are proof that Hnin's story is all too real.

Her torment began when she was offered the opportunity to work in China as a chef. Hnin was married at 14, and a single mother of two by 16.


She and her husband had separated and she was back at home, living with her mother. Money was extremely tight and Hnin felt guilty that she was putting so much financial stress on her mother.

So when a friend told her she could make good money in China, Hnin saw an opportunity. The friend told her to come across the border just for one day and see if she liked the place - then she could make up her mind. And so Hnin said yes. And just like that, Hnin disappeared.

Hnin's friend and another woman, neighbours of Hnin's mother, took her across the border illegally then abandoned her with a Chinese couple.

Hnin was already alarmed after her friends had abandoned her. When she heard the couple talking on the phone about making some sort of deal and arguing over money, she realised she was in deep trouble and tried to flee.

Hnin, 22, was trafficked to China where she was forced into slave labour and married to a Chinese man. Photo / Mike Scott
Hnin, 22, was trafficked to China where she was forced into slave labour and married to a Chinese man. Photo / Mike Scott

The van driver working for the couple ran after her and beat her as a punishment for trying to escape. Hnin's arm was badly broken in two places - she will show you the grotesque disfigurement if you ask her to - but that didn't prevent her from trying to run away again.

She spent two days in the van as the couple drove around the city trying to broker a deal for her sale and on the third day, she was able to escape again. She ran through the unfamiliar streets of the Chinese city, calling for help and eventually a woman on a motorbike stopped, recognising the language because she too was from Myanmar.

She took Hnin home with her and Hnin thought she was safe. The woman bathed her, bound her arm and fed her and promised Hnin she would arrange to get her home.

But the next day, her compatriot sold her to a Chinese family. Hnin says she felt betrayed and desperate. She was taken to a farm where the family who'd bought her bred pigs and she was expected to work in the factory, helping to deliver piglets, as well as perform the usual wifely duties.

The monsoon season in Yangon, Burma's biggest city. Photo / Mike Scott
The monsoon season in Yangon, Burma's biggest city. Photo / Mike Scott

Two or three months into her captivity, the family began to wonder why Hnin wasn't pregnant. They forced her to drink a herbal supplement every night that they hoped would stimulate her fertility but what they didn't know was that Hnin had an IUD to protect against pregnancy - one she'd had inserted after her second child.

When the herbal fertility treatments didn't work, the family brought a doctor to the house to inspect Hnin and find out why she wasn't able to conceive. He found the IUD and removed it and the family continued to force Hnin to swallow all manner of concoctions to get her pregnant.

Two years later, Hnin was still a slave and still not pregnant. That's when Hnin says the family forced her to have sex every night. She was raped by her Chinese husband, his father, his brother and other relatives.

It's heartbreaking as Hnin, in a matter-of-fact fashion, counts off the men who raped her. She felt furious and powerless and desperate - she didn't think she would ever see her family again.

But one day, after nearly three years of forced labour and sexual slavery, Hnin noticed that the doors of the house were open and nobody from the family was watching her. There was a motorbike outside that had the keys in the ignition and Hnin seized her opportunity.

Despite never having ridden a bike before, she jumped on and pointed the bike in the direction of the main road. When she reached the motorway however, she realised that she'd be killed if she kept trying to ride the bike amongst traffic. She had no idea how to stop the thing, so she simply jumped off it and rolled to the side of the road. A van of Chinese men thought she was trying to commit suicide and stopped to see if they could help her.

Through a mixture of sign language and using the few Chinese words she knew, Hnin asked her to take her to the nearest police station and that's where they dropped her - bruised, bloody but free.

It was four months before Hnin made it home though. She had to go through a series of interviews while the police investigated her story. And she also went through an abortion while she was being kept in police custody.

One of the male family members had finally managed to get Hnin pregnant. Hnin told the police the circumstances of the pregnancy and they agreed to take her to hospital to get the procedure performed.

And then finally, finally Hnin was home to her children - and her husband who was desperate to reunite with her after fearing she was gone forever.

Hnin says she's happy to be home and to be back with her husband and she's also pleased that her traffickers are facing criminal charges. The traffickers, her former neighbours, had told her family that Hnin was working in a garment factory in China. The two women didn't think she would ever be able to escape and even if she did, they thought she wouldn't have the confidence to bring charges because she is poor and illiterate.

But they were wrong. Every day she was kept a prisoner in China Hnin told herself that if she ever escaped, she would do everything in her power to bring the traffickers to justice. And she was proud she was strong enough to give evidence at their trial. The court case is still ongoing but Hnin is confident the two women will be convicted. And incredibly - after all she has been through - Hnin is pregnant with her third child. She's hoping for a boy.

To donate to the Not for Sale campaign go to World Vision