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‘Modern-Day Slave’ To Shed Light On ‘Hidden’ Truth

Sept. 15, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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Shyima Hall
Shyima Hall

When Shyima Hall was eight years old, her poverty-stricken Egyptian parents, overwhelmed with close to a dozen children, sold her into slavery.

The price? Less than $30.

After being smuggled into California by the wealthy Cairo couple who bought Hall, the 10-year-old slept on a squalid mattress in a windowless garage with only a bucket and some water to wash herself and her clothes. She was forbidden from going to school.

Hall will recount those days as a modern-day slave in America on Oct. 14, when she visits the Sam Houston State University as the guest speaker for the Global Center for Journalism and Democracy.

“Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern Day Slave” will begin at 5 p.m. in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center Concert Hall.

The talk, titled after her book of the same name, will detail her experiences, her rescue from bondage, and her new life, grounded in determination and justice.

“It is important to hear from Hall, who was held captive right here in the United States,” said GCJD executive director Kelli Arena. “Currently, there are more than 27 million modern-day slaves in the world. In Houston, more than 1,500 victims have been identified since 2007, according to the Polaris Project. We need to be aware that this is happening and how we can help stop it.”

Awareness certainly helped Hall.

Hidden Girl coverNeighbors caught glimpses of a small, dark-haired girl during times children her age should have been in school. In 2002, acting on a tip from one of those neighbors, child welfare authorities rescued Hall.

Thirteen at the time, Hall decided she wanted to stay in the United States. She hasn’t returned to Egypt or seen her family since.

While Hall could have chosen to fade into obscurity, she has decided on a much different path.

Now 24 years old and a U.S. citizen, Hall speaks to groups across the country about combating human trafficking and has briefed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents about the emotional and physical trauma that victims endure.

In January, her memoir, “Hidden Girl,” was published by Simon and Schuster.

During her presentation, Hall’s book will be on sale, and she will sign copies after the lecture.

The event is free, and open to the public.

Also as part of this awareness campaign, SHSU is joining with the End It Movement, a worldwide effort to end modern-day slavery, to host a demonstration earlier that day.

For more information on this event, contact the global center at 936.294.2479 or email jcs052@shsu.edu.




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