A whirlwind romance took a turn for the worse, and it all started on Facebook.
A MYSTERIOUS FRIEND REQUEST
Rekha was raised in a supportive family — one that empowered her to continue her schooling into college. Even with this support, Rekha was in danger of becoming a victim of human trafficking. The reason she was at-risk was not because of her family or education, but rather because of social media. Most young adults use several different social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, with the most popular site being Facebook. Social media is still a relatively new phenomenon, and individuals around the world may not realize the potential dangers associated with these platforms. Rekha’s story is a relevant example of the hidden risks in our modern time.
While attending school, Rekha received a Facebook friend request from a young man who lived in the same town as her. Seeing that they were from the same area, Rekha accepted Sanjey’s request without a second thought. After a short while of talking online, Sanjey asked Rekha to be his girlfriend, and she quickly said yes. The two, without ever meeting in person, became very close in the days to come.
Sanjey proposed that the two finally meet face-to-face, after some time had passed in their online relationship. Rekha had a feeling that something was not quite right and decided against the meet-up. When she responded negatively to the idea, her boyfriend’s usually-calm demeanor quickly changed. He threatened that if she did not meet him in Kathmandu, he would share their private conversations and photos with her family, friends, and colleagues. Rekha, petrified of this possibility, went against her gut and traveled to Kathmandu.
A WEEKEND GONE WRONG
After a terrible weekend, Rekha still proceeded with the relationship — she didn’t know what else to do. Over the next couple of weeks, Sanjey convinced Rekha that the couple must abandon their town and move to India for a better life. Rekha trusted her boyfriend and convinced herself that he must be right. When they arrived at the border, FFLI partners stopped and questioned the pair about their travels. When Rekha explained their relationship, border monitoring staff listened and told her about the risks of human trafficking. It was then Rekha recognized — through all the signs — that Sanjey was up to no good. She was elated to return to her family. Meanwhile, Sanjey was taken into police custody for his threats of blackmail and potential attempt at trafficking Rekha.
FINALLY SAFE FROM DANGER
Rekha’s story serves as a reminder about the danger of connecting with strangers on social media. Individuals can easily hide their true intentions, and to use this technology responsibly, we should be very aware of our privacy settings and permissions. Free for Life’s recommendation is to never accept friend requests from people you do not know. We are so grateful for Rekha’s rescue — she is now focusing on her schooling with the continued love and support of her family.
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