The promised life

Jasmin (name changed) lived in China with her family. She ran a small artificial fertiliser shop with her parents. When she lost all her money to fraudulent business partners and her father went to jail because of the debts he incurred, a hard time began for the whole family. Jasmin wanted to support them and went out looking for a job abroad and found something seemingly promising online. She received a job offer in Austria through an intermediary. The only requirement for this position was a pretty photo. Inexperienced in such matters, she fell into the hands of a human trafficker. Hers is a terrifying story. Today, sexual exploitation is the most common form of human trafficking.


When she arrived in Austria, she was taken to a small apartment on the outskirts of town. Jasmin was guaranteed a well-paying job. The following day she went to the Austrian authorities with an unknown man to apply for an asylum card. He asked her to tell a lie at the office, otherwise she would not get the job. Since an interpreter was present at the asylum office, the man did not go in with her. When she received the asylum card, the human trafficker took her passport away. He told her that she owed him about 1500 euros and that she had to pay him back. The supposed expenses were for the application for the asylum card. She was then taken to a studio and forced to work off the debts in form of sex work. The shock was great, everything seemed like a nightmare to her. It is not uncommon for those affected to feel like they have absolutely no way out of this difficult situation due to their trauma. She reluctantly sold her body for fear of violence. Jasmin did not dare go to the police because she could not speak the language and she thought that the authorities in Austria were as corrupt as the ones in China.


When Jasmin paid back the requested money, she left the brothel. A friend helped her get in contact with another brothel, where she could continue doing this job. Since she hardly knew anyone and did not understand the language, she remained active in prostitution. In the new establishment she hoped for better circumstances. Unfortunately, it did not get any better. The psychological pressure to want to help her parents increased. Women who work in prostitution have a higher risk of developing mental disorders. ‘Mental disorders are much more common with female prostitutes than with other women. As a study by the University of Zurich shows, having experienced violence in the past, horrendous working conditions and nationality are significant risk factors. Especially prostitutes from non-European countries who work in studios or bars and are exposed to violence in the milieu suffer from mental disorders (almost without exception)’ (Cf. Rössler, et al. 2010).

About a year later, the social workers from the Herzwerk organisation visited her in the brothel. The young Jasmin received a business card from the ladies. At first Jasmin is too afraid to accept their help out of fear and shame. The brothel owner speaks to Jasmin and tries to convince her that she should not trust anyone on the outside. After about two years, she gathered up her courage and contacted the organisation. Since it is not easy to get out of this milieu, a regular integration into our society is hardly possible without any outside help. One of Jasmin´s reasons for escaping her horrendous situation was, among other things, the will to properly learn the German language. At Hope for the Future she attended a German course for three months. Soon after, she received a terrible diagnosis. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she experienced another blow of fate.


After the successful operation, she was able to begin a new phase of her life. She found her meaning in life in the Christian faith. In the hospital she was visited by carers from the Diakonie who talked with her about faith. This gave her new courage and hope. She attended other courses and would like to complete training in the pedagogical field. Today she speaks the German language at a higher level. Through courage and change, she has created long-awaited prospects for her life.

Translated by: Sophie Kitchen