Just over a decade ago, Lydia immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, trekking alone across the desert no-man’s-land between the two countries. What she couldn’t imagine then was that feat of physical endurance would prove to be just the beginning of her ordeal.
Because for three years, Lydia survived a life of domestic servitude—virtually held hostage by her employers, routinely paid a fraction of what she was promised or nothing at all, and kept on her feet upward of 18 hours a day. She was, for all intents and purposes, a slave, and she’s far from alone—estimates vary widely, but forced labor like the kind Lydia endured, whether it be in sweatshops, hair salons or part of the sex trade, is estimated to be a more than $1 billion industry in the U.S. alone.
Her tale echoes what many go through.