Marisol Garcia Bejarano spent seventeen years in prison for a crime she did not commit. A survivor of human trafficking in Mexico and in California, Marisol witnessed a murder committed by the man who bought her for $200 when she was just thirteen years old. After years of holding her as his domestic servant and sexual slave, he then framed Marisol for his murder, and she went to a California prison for his crime.
To many, such a devastating turn of events may have been cause for depression, anger, and bitterness. Yet Marisol says that she saw prison as a chance for her dreams to come true. Finally, she had a chance to learn to read and write, to learn to speak English and acquire basic jobs skills, and to develop a network of friends. Marisol saw prison as freedom from captivity.
When the Law School of the University of California learned of Marisol’s story and acknowledged her innocence, they initiated a project to release her. In 2013, seventeen years after her false conviction, Marisol was pardoned by the Governor of California. She is now a victim’s advocate and house mom at Red Binacional de Corazones, a home for young girls who are also survivors of human trafficking.
When Norma Bastidas learned of Marisol and of her commitment to advocating for others after a lifetime of hurts and abuses, Norma knew that she too must share her own story of victimization and survival to advocate for the end of the injustice of trafficking. To demonstrate that we can indeed end it, Norma will complete the world’s longest triathlon starting in March of this year.