More via Shyima Hall opens up about being sold into slavery by her parents | Mail Online.
A 24-year-old new mother calls her life ‘heaven’ now, but it didn’t always used to be that way.
In 1998, at just 8-years-old, Shyima Hall was sold into slavery by her parents in Egypt.
She spent the next four years working 20 hours days for a family that hit her, called her stupid, and kept her in a cell-like bedroom.
Hall finally got her taste of freedom two years after the family she worked for moved to California, and child services received an anonymous tip about her existence.
Now she has written a book, Hidden Girl, shedding more light on her dark years as a servant and how she’s bounced back to create a life of her own.
‘I want people to know this can happen. Slavery is not in the history book. It’s right next to you,’ she told People magazine.
Hall spent the next two years working for Ibrahim and Motelib who she called ‘the Dad’ and ‘the Mom’, caring for the couple’s pair of twins three years younger than her and a daughter about the same age.
She says the children ‘knew what I was and reminded me all the time’ while the Dad would smack her with his fist and the Mom would call her ‘stupid slave’.
The terrible treatment seemed endless for Hall, who would call her mom crying asking when she could come home.
‘She’d always say, “You need to pay off your sister’s debt”‘
Two years later, the family relocated to Irvine, California and their abuse got even worse.
In Cairo, the family had a staff, but in the smaller California home Hall was the only doing all the work.
She got up at 5:30am every day to get the kids ready for school and proceeded to work on the upkeep of the house for the rest of the day, scared the Mom would come home and criticize her cleaning.
She never took a break for eating either since she was only allowed one meal a day – whatever was leftover from the family’s dinner.
As for Hall’s part of the house, the family kept her in a room without heat, air-conditioning or lighting with only a bare mattress to sleep on.
She had to wash her clothes by hand after she learned the lesson not to use the washing and drying machines.
When the Mom discovered her using the dryer one day she screamed, and said: ‘Your clothes are never to touch ours. This bucket is what you wash your clothes in, behind the house.’
Hall never considered escape out of fear of what would happen if she was found.
‘The Mom and the Dad would tell me “If you walk out the cops are going to get you and beat you and you’ll never see your family again”‘ Hall remembers.
She got through each day by focusing on seeing her three younger siblings again – it ‘was all I thought about’.
Her lucky day came in 2002 when someone sent an anonymous tip into child services and a group of police, social workers and immigration officials stormed the house and took her away from her abusers.
After years as a slave, Hall’s only reaction to her freedom was fear. Ibrahim even had the nerve to order her to conceal her identity from police.
The last thing he told her in Arabic was: ‘Don’t tell them you work for us, say you’re here for a visit’.
Both Ibrahim and Motelib were convicted and sentenced to two to three years in prison. Motelib was deported back to Egypt but her husband may still be living in Southern California.
Why hasn’t he been deported?
Her book here Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave
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