It was May 2001 and journalist Diana Scimone was on assignment in Mumbai, India, writing an article about forced prostitution of women. Early one Saturday evening her contact took her through Mumbai's red-light district, one of the largest in Asia. He pointed to a second-floor window and asked if she could see the cages in it.
“Cages?” she repeated with horror. “What’s in them?”
Diana wanted to throw up. As a journalist she'd been to dozens of countries covering everything from starving refugees in Sudan to people living under the brutal dictatorship in Zimbabwe to throw-away babies abandoned at an orphanage in China.
She had seen a lot — but never cages that held little girls.
Her contact went on to tell her that these little girls are smuggled across the border from Nepal into India, and held in cages for 30 days. They’re raped, tortured, starved, and urinated on until they no longer have a will to rebel or run away.
Only then are they fit to be sold as child sex slaves.
The contact said Diana could take a picture but not to let the pimps see her or they'd take her camera.
"I got my photo," Diana says, "and I call it the photo that changed my life because I couldn't stop thinking about what I'd seen." Diana learned there are millions of girls like the ones in those cages. They’re raped for profit 30 or 40 times a night — night after night after night. They're not just in India and Nepal, but all over the world including in every city in the United States.
In 2003 Diana founded a non-profit organization to respond to some of the most critical needs she had seen among the world’s children. Two years later, that organization became Born2Fly and began to focus solely on stopping the worldwide horror of child sex trafficking.
In the mid 2000s, the few anti-trafficking organizations that existed were focused on rescuing victims -- absolutely necessary but Diana believed at the same time we had to also cut off the supply-line of children or we'd never stop the traffic.
Her goal was to reach kids before the traffickers ever did. She assembled a team of educators, illustrators, and designers and created a wordless book (wordless so that kids anywhere in the world could read it) and companion curriculum, which has been translated into 12 languages.
Today the Born2Fly Project to stop child trafficking is the global leader in trafficking prevention for young children. More than 1,200 organizations have registered to teach this powerful curriculum in 65 countries, and Born2Fly has become the global leader in trafficking prevention for young children.
The photo that changed Diana's life launched a global movement to change the lives of countless children -- by reaching them before the traffickers do.
Born2Fly president Diana Scimone in front of the photo that changed her life
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Children trafficked for sex have endured enough exploitation. We’ve chosen not to use their photos on this site.
The children you see here have not knowingly been trafficked (although many are at risk for it).
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