South Africa

One woman shares her story of escaping sex slavery.

Cape Town, South Africa

Grizelda Grootboom, 37

I have survived hell.

I grew up partially in Khayelitsha, an informal settlement in Cape Town, and partially on the streets. When we were forced from our homes by the apartheid government, I lived with my dad on the streets. After his death, I lived with my mother. Living in Khayelithsa I was exposed to sexual violence. When my mother did not protect me, I decided to return to the streets.

I thought I could make it on my own. I befriended a young girl from a wealthy family who used to smoke with us. I thought she was like a sister to me. but little did I know she was luring me into the dark world of trafficking.

She promised me a better life in Johannesburg, but once we were there, my “friend” left me alone, saying she would be back soon. Instead, I was tied up, beaten, and injected with drugs for nearly two weeks. I was essentially forced into addiction and kept as a sex slave.

When I was finally thrown out onto the streets, I had very few options before me. Soon, I was working for a pimp, doing the only thing I knew how: using my body to get drugs. They had turned me into an addict, into a person I didn’t know. This went on for eight years until I was 26.

Eventually, I fell pregnant with my baby. I was not forced to abort because some clients wanted me to be pregnant. But at six months, long after is safe to abort, I was forced to do just that. This was the turning point for me.

What followed was hospitalisation, rehabilitation and an attempt at a “normal” life working at a church. When the pastor asked me to transport drugs to Cape Town, I used this as my opportunity to flee back to my mother after all these years.

Now, I am an author, an activist and soon to be a human rights law student. I was one of the lucky ones. I feel that I was saved so that I can now try and save others from what I went through.


Coming soon….


Embrace Dignity

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