Teen Slaves in New Jersey Forced to Braid Hair Made $4Million for their Captors

Imagine you are looking to get your hair braided and you find a salon where the price is low and the quality of the braids is high. You sit for hours in a chair, while a young girl who could be the same age as your sister or daughter works her artistry on your hair. You pay at the register on your way out, and for the next few days as your family and friends compliment you on your braids, it never occurrs to you that the work you paid such a low price for was performed by a slave.

I always thought of running but I didn’t know nobody. I didn’t know where to go. -Zena

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When people think of modern day slavery, they usually associate it with the sex trade — and it seems far away from our everyday lives. The girls in this CNN story came to America from Ghana and Togo as young children, hoping for an education and a better life. Instead, they were forced to work fourteen hours a day, seven days a week for five years in neighborhood beauty shops in Newark, New Jersey. Their captors pocketed $4 million. The young women were never paid a dime.

If you suspect someone is being held against their will, or you want to learn more about how to fight modern slavery, visit the National Human Trafficking Resource Center


19 thoughts on “Teen Slaves in New Jersey Forced to Braid Hair Made $4Million for their Captors

      1. isnt it amazing that its almost always betrayal by your own? I blame the system because they should be checking on these places, checking id’s etc to ensure their shops are legal. If the system was more focus on what it should be focused on human trafficking wouldnt be so previlent.

  1. So where is the justice? This is America. Who is prosecuting this case? Two bits the aiuthorities punish the victims and the pimps go free.

  2. This is very sad, they are so beautiful and talent women. They could have been in business for self but instead used as slaves for beauty. Glad the captors received justice for their crimes

  3. If there was as much diligence in checking on the status of young people coming from impoverished countries as there is with checking restaurants and other business’s for illegal immigrants/workers and making the general public aware of this problem thats going on right in their neighborhoods, this illegal activity would come to a screeching halt. Also by providing some type of assistance to these girls in the form of hotlines, emergency shelters and financial assistance they would not feel that they have no where to turn or go for help. I know the government of aware of this situation but has not to mandate any laws so that communities are able to do something about this menacing activity. This is a tragedy and a call to bring attention to and eliminate this problem is long overdue. Once again….it is so easy to turn a blind eye to the exploitation of the children of AFRICA!

    1. Oh c’mon …a restaurant can kill you with bad food. The dept. Of health IS part of homeland security now. Last time I checked no one died from a bad hair job. And there are ppl born and raised in America who don’t know where to go to or turn to for help. How do u think immigrants who probably speak 3 or 4 broken sentences of English are gunna do?
      What laws would you like? The ability to storm every business in America with ICE agents? Oh that’s going to be great let’s put federal agents in every business in America so we can keep an eye on things. The children of Africa…get over yourself the Chinese have it worse. Muslims in some places have it worse including your wonderful America. You children of Africa theory has more holes in it than swiss cheese.

    2. No offense but there are many human trafficking control websites, commercials, pamphlets, and other informative types of media out there. Let’s not play the blame game ma’am because unfortunately the government will be to blame whether they harass or ignore immigrants [shrug]. You do realize that there’s a strong chance that these girls just didn’t have ACCESS to the information and if they did they would probably still be a bit apprehensive about reporting it. Stuff like this happens and the only people to blame are the offenders and the ones that are suspicious yet turn a blind eye to it. This is extremely sad but it doesn’t just happen to Africans. Turn on the news or get on Google, there’s people from various countries brought to America as the worst kinds of slaves. These victims include children, adults, males, and females. Unfortunately, we live in a pretty evil world where the villains come in numerous forms.

      Oh and here’s the link to the FBI’s website, I think they also have a Facebook page, not sure: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/civilrights/human_trafficking

  4. This is so shocking! I see braiding shops all over where I livw and it makes me wonder..I truely believe that since those girls were forced to do the work and promised a better life they should have the money that was made off of them so that they can move on with their lives and be able to live the life that they were promised.

  5. The same greed, hatred, lust for money, power and control brought African Americans here to this country in chains, captured and sold by other black men. I do believe that the enslavement trade would still be going on, if left to African tribal leaders, black on black crime! Hopefully they will catch those involved in these crimes against women, prosecute them and send them packing back to the Village.

  6. I want to know where these shops are located? It’s not enough to make this public without making sure we know where these locations are. If this is not made public, who’s to say if you are not patronizing one of these locations? For sure one of the best way to is to ask for a license, but in most states a cosmetology license is not required to braid hair. What a crime and a shame.

  7. I cannot believe this! so many times we go to get our hair braided. I hope the shop I use is not doing this!
    I will not use it if it is going on. thank you for sharing this information. I want them to tell us if they are being used this way. we as a people can stop this.

  8. This was such a horrible thing to happen to these young girls. The only positive thing that I can see is that they did not have to sell their bodies.

    My aunt was kidnapped by “White Slavers” back in the 1920’s, into prostitution. She was 12 years old. She managed to get away from them when she was fifteen. It ruined her life. She died an alcoholic.

    I am curious to know if these girls got any restitution for all of the work that they did.

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