Sioni Rodriguez: Advocate Against Human Trafficking
Sioni was born in Mumbai, India, and then moved with her family to Costa Rica at the age of five. What should have been the most innocent years of her young life were marked by abuse, fear and poverty. Her parents were violent alcoholics who did not hesitate to physically, verbally and mentally abuse Sioni and her brother. The beatings were harsh and frequent.
Sexual abuse began early at the hands of both her mother’s lover and an older half brother. As if the horrors of her young life hadn’t already demanded enough from Sioni, she was soon betrayed in a way that no child should ever experience. Sioni was sold into sex trafficking, and left at a local brothel for some time...by her very own mother.
One day as she was running an errand for her mother, there came the sound of music through the streets. It was unlike anything she had ever heard before. Intrigued Sioni followed the sound as it led her inside a house. Sioni recalls that the people were kind and the house was filled with so much joy! Unbeknownst to Sioni, she walked into a church service, and her life would be changed by the presence of the living God.
Although Sioni’s spirit encountered a transformation, her immediate situation did not. The trauma of her life continued as her mother sold her for a second time to a brothel, where she was held captive for three years, and for a third time as a bride to an abusive man. That man brought her to the United States, then abandoned her along with her two young children.
In September, Sioni was named the 2018 Beyond Me Award recipient from the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. The award honors her work as an advocate for those caught in the world of sexual slavery and abuse. Sioni's book is titled "Three Times Sold".