In a harrowing new memoir, HIDDEN GIRL: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; January 21, 2013; hardcover; $16.99), twenty-three year old Shyima Hall reveals how she ended up a domestic slave living in bondage in the United States and emerged from the experience a strong, happy, and inspiring woman.
One of eleven children in a desperately poor Egyptian family, Shyima was sold into slavery at eight years old to repay a debt incurred by an older sister and preserve her family's honor. Her captors, a wealthy Egyptian couple, referred to her as "stupid girl" and regularly abused her, verbally and physically. A few years into her bondage, her captors moved to the United States and illegally trafficked Shyima in with them. As the family's only slave (they had many in Egypt), Shyima worked around the clock, through illness and debilitating pain from what she would later discover was Rheumatoid Arthritis. Prohibited from sleeping in the main house, Shyima was forced to sleep in a small, dark room on a dirty mattress in the garage with no ventilation, bathroom, or natural light.
On April 9, 2002, Shyima's life was changed forever when law enforcement rescued her from her captors after receiving an anonymous tip. Her life, post-slavery, was not without hardship. She didn't speak English, had never attended school, was in a country with completely different customs, and struggled to connect with various foster families. To add to those challenges, Shyima was coping with the reality that she would not reunite with her family in Egyptthey did not want her back and were likely to sell her back into slavery if she returned. Despite all of this, Shyima persevered, grew confident, and formed many trusting relationships. In 2011 she realized her dream of becoming an American citizen and now lives happily in California with her life partner Daniel and their daughter Athena. She works regularly with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to prevent and raise awareness about human trafficking and slavery. She hopes to one day become an ICE agent herself.
HIDDEN GIRL is not only one woman's brave account, but it is a wake-up call for Americans about the prevalence of human trafficking and slavery on our own soil