'Out of the Cages': Confronting Novel About the Dark Tactics of Sex Traffickers - Hope 103.2

‘Out of the Cages’: Confronting Novel About the Dark Tactics of Sex Traffickers

A confronting new young adults novel 'Out of the Cages' follows two Nepali girls, aged 11 and 12, as they’re trafficked into India to work in the sex trade.

By Katrina RoeTuesday 31 Jul 2018Hope MorningsSocial JusticeReading Time: 3 minutes

Listen: Penny Jaye talks with Katrina Roe about her confronting new novel Out of the Cages.

Like most Australians I was overjoyed when I saw those 12 boys from the Thai soccer team escape their watery cave. But as they emerged, it struck me: how many girls in Thailand and other parts of Asia are still trapped, stuck in literal cages of slavery, with little hope of rescue?

At the time, I was reading Out of the Cages – a young adult novel that follows two Nepali girls, aged 11 and 12, as they’re trafficked into India to work in the sex industry. Written by Penny Jaye (who also writes as Penny Reeve), Out of the Cages portrays the very real horror of children being tricked into working in brothels.

Penny started researching trafficking while living in Nepal many years ago, after her Nepali friends told her stories of young girls and women being sold across the border into India.

In our interview she recalled the moment that birthed the project.

“The question just nagged at me:  What if she had been trafficked?”

“It wasn’t until one of my friends sat down and shared her photo album with me, and there was a young girl in the photo album that I didn’t recognise,” Penny recalled.  “And I said, ‘Where is this girl and who is she?’  Apparently, she had gone down to the river to wash her clothes and she had never returned.  I asked where had she gone, and no-one knew.

“She could have been swept away by the river, she could have run away to find another life. But the question just nagged at me:  What if she had been trafficked? What if she had been sold into slavery?  Would she ever be able to come home? It was those questions that made the book come to life.”

Hope 103.2 is proudly supported by

Researching the Book a Shocking Learning Curve

Author Penny Jaye writer of Out of the Cages

Above: Author Penny Jaye at work on hr writing, in Nepal.

Researching the book was an eye-opener for Penny, who says she was fairly naïve when she first took the project on.

“It was very confronting, the things that I learned about the treatment of the girls, especially the young girls, and the way that they had been kept hidden, deliberately, in case police raids occurred,” she said. “Real, deliberate ways of keeping children hidden and silenced.  It was very confronting.”

In one disturbing scene in Penny’s book, little girls are hidden behind a false wall in a brothel.  This kind of inside information came from girls who had been rescued, and who then used that knowledge to help the police find other hidden girls.

Penny recalls the first time she met a girl who had been rescued from trafficking.

“I knew that the courage these survivors have to keep living was something I need to write about.”

“We sat on her smooth mudded front porch and she shared her story with me,” Penny said.  “I was exceptionally naïve.  I felt incredibly inadequate. My questions seemed so simplistic and stupid compared to the lived experience of this woman.

“She had her young son climbing over her and eating mandarins.  And she answered my questions as if wondering why on earth I wanted to know.  And it just struck me how incredibly brave she must have been to come home to where her family was. after her experiences.

“There’s a lot of stigma, still, about someone who works in the sex industry – even if it was not that person’s choice.

“But she sat on her front porch with me and she shared her story with me.  I could no longer put these girls into any boxes.  I could no longer make any generalisations about them. I knew that the courage and the determination these survivors have to keep living was something that I need to write about.”

Make a Difference

To join the fight against modern day slavery, check out the websites of the following anti-slavery organisations: