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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
02/14/2014

TOP STORY: People Magazine highlights book by former human trafficking victim

People Magazine highlights book by former human trafficking victim - Photo credit: People Magazine
People Magazine highlights book by former human trafficking victim - Photo credit: People Magazine

An Egyptian human trafficking victim enslaved as a girl in southern California wrote an autobiography that details her ordeal and subsequent life in the U.S. after being rescued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and the local police department.

Shyima Hall shares details from her book, "Hidden Girl," which was published last month, in this week's edition of People Magazine.

She dedicates the book to HSI Supervisory Special Agent Mark Abend "for helping me navigate life in the United States, for his assistance in helping me raise awareness of basic human rights, and for his dedication to end slavery in our world," she writes in the book.

Abend calls it the proudest moment of his career, he said, because of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles the 24-year-old Hall has overcome throughout her life.

"I've never seen someone that very well could have had a broken spirit, stand up and say 'I'm not taking this,' and become such an example of strength to others," Abend said.

Hall was sold by her family into slavery in Egypt when she was 10 years old. The Egyptian couple who enslaved her moved to Irvine, Calif., and smuggled Hall with them.

She spent two years living in squalor while caring for her new family around the clock with no pay, until HSI special agents and Irvine police officers rescued her after receiving an anonymous tip.

"This was a shining example of how the work we do at ICE helps families," Abend said.

He has stayed in touch with Hall through the years, the relationship providing a sense of stability for her as she built her life in the U.S., he said. She aims to become an ICE special agent because of how the agency helped free her from slavery, she told Abend.

"There is so much she has done and still so much she wants to do, she is so full of life," Abend said.

She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2011.