My Journey from Child Sexual Slavery to Activism: Exposing the Brutal Reality of Modern Slavery in the Caribbean and Latin America

Jánelle Marina Méndez
The Feminist
Published in
14 min readDec 22, 2022


I came to the Dominican Republic after filing five United Nations Human Rights Complaints about the human rights violations I experienced during my time as a victim of child-sexual slavery in the United States military. I was seeking a respite from the United States Military, American political influences, and capitalism, which had subjected me to fifteen years of human rights abuses.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade has been a particularly difficult and distressing event for me. As a female veteran and a survivor of child sexual slavery, I am at higher risk for fertility issues and pregnancy complications, which I have experienced firsthand. The trauma of sexual slavery causes not only psychological harm, but also severe nerve damage that can worsen with each subsequent trauma. I have been pregnant twice and both times I needed life-saving abortions after miscarrying. While I had previously hoped to have children, the overturning of Roe v. Wade has made me reconsider. I don’t want to bring children into a world that is so cruel and dominated by white men who actively pursue the subjugation and enslavement of women. I especially don’t want to have a daughter who might suffer the same kinds of sexual violence and torture that I have experienced due to capitalism and patriarchy.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade was a turning point for me. I ended my relationship with my boyfriend and have intentionally stayed single since. Many millennial and Gen Z women are doing the same thing, avoiding men at all costs to remain liberated. There are two experiences I don’t want in my life: enslavement and punishment. The overturning of Roe v. Wade means that having sex with men could expose me to both. I’ve already been experiencing these issues for the past 15 years due to the extreme lengths that the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy have gone to in order to prevent me from accessing legal and medical assistance, including physical and psychological torture, arbitrary incarceration, rape, child pornography, hazing, forced prostitution, stripping, homelessness, and fake felonies. As a result, I was forced into the illicit sex and drug trade. I’m still fighting for proper restorative justice.

As I have sought justice for myself and other military personnel and veterans, I have been met with constant death threats, reputation attacks, and even failed assassination attempts that all stem from misogynistic members of the Marine Corps. Even in my pursuit of restorative justice, which I have a human right to seek, the U.S. military has worked extremely hard to silence my efforts and erase me from history.

The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is partly a result of the UN Human Rights Complaints that I submitted over the past year. I submitted my Military Industry Regulatory Authority (MIRA) legislation to the UN due to the failed lobbying efforts for the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act, which was ultimately denied by the Guillen family. I then filed those complaints based on the international human rights law’s impossibility of justice legal standard. I know this because a national victim’s advocacy organization has won the licensing contracts from the Department of Defense for the NDAA 2023, which was designed and written based on my MIRA legislation that was submitted to the UN. I have been in contact with that organization.

The licensing and training program at the Department of Defense (DoD) was designed based on my experience working on Wall Street as a licensed professional. This is just one aspect of the comprehensive oversight and reporting process that I developed in MIRA, which is modeled after FINRA regulations. The removal of disciplinary actions and the third-party reporting of military sexual trauma (MST), as well as the timeline requirements, are all based on FINRA standards, as are the universal training and licensing programs and the public reporting.

When I filed the human rights complaints with the United Nations, I made strong arguments for why they needed to ensure that the government included these changes in this year’s NDAA. That is why all of these changes made it into this year’s NDAA. What is frustrating is that I watched the Guillén family’s attorney give a press conference today about the NDAA as if she had done any of the work or made any of the changes that were included. She didn’t do anything. I did. I have all five UN complaints to prove it. I filed eleven human rights charges against the United States government to make these changes happen and I even left the United States for my safety to ensure that I saw these changes come to fruition. The Guillen family is now taking credit for the changes that they refused to make with the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act, even though it was the work that I actually did and my actual success. They are claiming credit for my efforts.

Let me explain why this is problematic. Firstly, the Guillen family has no experience with institutionalized child-sexual slavery in the military, which is why they didn’t understand the need for the various reforms I suggested. If they did, they wouldn’t have hired a Republican attorney or be using military sexual trauma (MST) as a Republican accomplishment. Modern slavery is upheld and enforced by the Republican Party. Many survivors of military sexual trauma (MST) have experienced institutionalized slavery, even if they are not aware of it. These systems of oppression are why many of us are progressive, scientific leftists.

It’s important to recognize that the use of religion to justify slavery and oppression is a longstanding and ongoing issue that has contributed to the systemic issues that have allowed for the enslavement of people, including children, in the Caribbean and Latin America. Republicans have often used religious rhetoric and arguments to support and defend slavery, exploitation, and other forms of oppression.

For example, throughout history, some Republicans have used religious doctrine to justify the enslavement of African Americans and other people of color, arguing that it was God’s will or that certain races were inferior or cursed. Similarly, in the Caribbean and Latin America, the exploitation and enslavement of indigenous and Afro-Caribbean people have often been justified through the use of religious doctrine and interpretations.

This use of religion to justify slavery and oppression is one of the systemic issues that has allowed for the exploitation and enslavement of people, including children, in these regions. It is important to recognize and challenge these harmful ideologies and to work towards creating a more just and equal society.

Religious vigils can contribute to affirming modern slavery in a number of ways. For example, some religious leaders and institutions may use vigils to pray for the victims of slavery and to call for an end to this practice, which can be an important and meaningful way to show solidarity and support.

However, religious vigils can also serve to reinforce and legitimize the power dynamics that sustain modern slavery. For example, if a vigil is organized by a group with privilege and power, such as a wealthy or predominantly white congregation, it could serve to reinforce their own sense of moral superiority and perpetuate harmful stereotypes about the victims of slavery. This can further entrench the systemic inequalities and power imbalances that allow modern slavery to thrive.

Additionally, if a vigil focuses solely on prayer and spiritual contemplation, without also addressing the root causes of modern slavery and taking concrete action to combat it, it may serve to deflect attention away from the need for structural and societal change. This can prevent the necessary shifts in power and resources that are needed to truly address and dismantle modern slavery.

Overall, it is important to approach religious vigils with a critical and nuanced understanding of their potential impact, and to work towards creating spaces that truly honor and uplift the voices and experiences of those who have been affected by modern slavery and MST. The Guillen family’s use of religious vigils to honor and remember Vanessa Guillen, who was a murder victim, could potentially affirm modern slavery in Latin American communities without the family fully understanding the implications for the lives of others.

For example, if the family’s vigils are organized and attended primarily by people with privilege and power, such as wealthy or predominantly white congregations, they could serve to reinforce harmful stereotypes about the victims of slavery and perpetuate the systemic inequalities and power imbalances that allow modern slavery to thrive. This could further marginalize and disempower the very communities that are most impacted by modern slavery, without the Guillen family fully understanding the implications of their actions.

Today’s press release by the Guillen family attorney, the photo-ops with President Trump and other Republicans, as well as their vigils, deflect attention away from the actual issues that cause modern sexual slavery, which is the most severe form of military sexual violence.

I am a survivor of child sexual slavery in the military and I have experienced a number of lifetime health complications as a result of my trauma. These complications may include physical, mental, and emotional consequences that have had a lasting impact on my well-being and quality of life. I am always going to carry the weight of this experience with me, whether or not I choose to. The trauma of sexual slavery can have far-reaching and long-term effects, that will last my entire life. I feel tired of constantly having to fight for the justice that I rightfully deserve. The fight for justice has been a long and difficult process, and it is not uncommon for survivors of slavery like myself to feel overwhelmed and exhausted by the constant effort required. In my case, I may have felt that leaving the United States was my best option in order to seek healthcare, safety, and respite.

Instead, I ended up witnessing a high amount of child-sex trafficking of teenage Dominican, Haitian, and Venezuelan girls by American men on vacation. This triggered a deep sense of responsibility to study and research the causes of modern slavery of Caribbean and Latin Americans. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to research modern slavery in the Caribbean for a number of reasons. One reason is that I have experienced firsthand the devastating impact of modern slavery, both through my own experiences and through encounters with individuals who have been affected by this issue. Seeing the harm and suffering caused by modern slavery has motivated me to want to learn more about this issue and to work towards finding solutions.

Another reason is that I feel a personal calling and sense of purpose to work towards ending modern slavery in the Caribbean. I believe that I have the skills, knowledge, and resources to make a meaningful difference in this area, and that researching modern slavery is a way to use these resources to help others.

Ultimately, my interest in researching modern slavery in the Caribbean is driven by a desire to understand this issue more fully and to work towards finding solutions that can help to end modern slavery in the Caribbean and around the world. I feel a sense of responsibility to use my abilities and resources to make a positive impact on this issue, and I am committed to continuing to educate myself and to work towards finding ways to help those who have been affected by modern slavery.

Modern Slavery in the Caribbean looks like:

Modern slavery in the Dominican Republic takes many forms, including sex trafficking, forced labor, and debt bondage. Human trafficking in the Dominican Republic often involves the exploitation of women and children for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. This may include the use of force, fraud, or coercion to recruit, transport, harbor, or receive individuals for the purpose of exploitation.

Forced labor in the Dominican Republic involves the use of threats, violence, or other forms of coercion to force individuals to work against their will, often in inhumane or degrading conditions. This includes the exploitation of migrant workers, who are particularly vulnerable to abuse due to their lack of legal protections or language barriers.

Debt bondage in the Dominican Republic involves the use of loans or other forms of indebtedness to trap individuals in a cycle of exploitative work, with little or no chance of escaping. This is particularly common in industries such as agriculture, construction, and domestic work, where individuals may be promised work or a better life in exchange for a loan or other form of debt. Overall, modern slavery in the Dominican Republic is a complex and pervasive issue that affects many different sectors of society and requires a multi-faceted approach to address.

U.S. Navy & Marine Corps. Reintroduced Slavery in the Caribbean in the Early 1900s:

Great Haitian Migration Crisis of 2022 has been caused by a number of human rights violations sociology factors that have been largely caused by United States Military Interventionalism in the Caribbean dating back to the Spanish-American War. The U.S. Government’s pursuit of colonizing the Caribbean and exploiting its resources has been longed studied and up for political debate most notably its treatment of Cuba and Puerto Rico while debate and studies surrounding Haitian culture has long been ignored. Yet, the Biden Administration’s response to the Haitian migration crisis is very similar to the Trump Administration’s response not in words but in actions. The Dominican Republic’s Government is taking the same inhumane approaches in dealing with the mass Haitian migration.

Cuba has been subject to an illegal U.S. embargo for well over 60 years for it’s revolution against forced U.S. Military occupation due to U.S. exploitation of its sugarcane production. This past August at the United Nations semi-annual meeting all countries with the exception of the United States & Israel voted to remove the embargo after the U.S. denied UN sanctioned envoys from entering Cuba during the last two years to provide medical supplies and COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic. This vote has taken place annually for the last twenty years, each year more countries have signed on to support Cuba to publicly declare this violation of international human rights law (United Nations, August 2022).

Due to the strained relationship between the United States and Cuba as well as Haiti’s geographical location between both nations, Haiti’s socioeconomic condition has been unstable. Haiti became the first free colonized nation in the Western hemisphere and the first freed African nation after a successful slave rebellion against the French due to their alliance with the Polish. In 1915, the Haitian President was assassinated and President Woodrow Wilson sent 330 U.S. Marines (which grew to over 5,000) to occupy the Capitol of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. This began a 19 year military occupation where the U.S. Military re-introduced slavery by forced labor methods. The conditions were so brutal that thousands of impoverished Haitians died. Haitian leaders continued to use the systems developed by the United States to exploit rural farmers and silence dissidents. As a result, significant parcels of Haitian land were sold to U.S. companies. The labor enslavement of Haitians still exists today (D. Suggs, Washington Post, 2021).

I have interviewed a number of Haitian migrants to better understand their experiences with being enslaved in various industries to include construction, agriculture and forced prostitution. Which really opened my eyes to just how prevalent slavery really is. Domino Sugar is a household brand on every supermarket shelve yet they source their sugar from La Romana, Dominican Republic. In fact the Biden Administration just announced that they placed economic sanctions and a trade embargo on La Romana Sugar Plantation for labor slavery and conditions of torture. Keep in mind that these conditions were re-introduced during U.S. Marine Corps. occupation of the island of Hispañola. These conditions don’t stop overseas. This same Marine Corps. culture that reintroduced slavery in Haiti and the Dominican Republic is the same military where, I a Puerto Rican American girl experienced sexual slavery.

This is why how we discuss Military Sexual Trauma is important on a larger scale. There are much wider and far reaching implications that impact the lives of Latin and Caribbean Americans who are currently enslaved. The United States is the largest imported of Latin and Caribbean American girls for sexual slavery. This isn’t accidental. The political system of white billionaire patriarchy funds these human rights abuses and further perpetuates them by using religion and male supremacy to create a class structure that allows the enablement of modern slavery. This structure is funded by the Republican Party and their white male billionaire donors.

Modern slavery is much more complicated to understand because it involves institutional systems that oppress people. Racism and sexism are tools of oppression and slavery. Religion especially Christianity is a tool used for psychological enslavement. Currency manipulation, deceit, bribery and seduction are all other tactics used to enforce slavery in the Caribbean. Living here over the last six months has made me realize how prevalent slavery is. I am far form alone. I am one of many people who have been enslaved. I got out and I am committed to working towards abolishing slavery through out the Western Hemisphere. I am currently writing a book on the psycho-anthropological impacts of white supremacy and racism and their impacts on the reproduction of slavery. This is why I will never align myself with the religious right. It’s nothing more than a sham to reproduce more slaves. Only the uneducated believe otherwise.




Jánelle Marina Méndez
The Feminist

Award-winning Author, Inventor, FinTech Entrepreneur | I write a human rights newsletter called The Feminist that focuses on social scientific theories.