Video:African girls held as slaves in America for years.

Modern-day Slavery in America.

Newark, New Jersey (CNN) — They arrived in the United States from West Africa, young girls held against their will and forced to work for hours on end. But this time, it didn’t happen hundreds of years ago.

Nicole’s journey started in 2002, when she was barely 12, in her small village in western Ghana. She and about 20 other girls were held in plain sight, but always under the watchful eyes of their captors.

"It was like being trapped, like being in a cage," said "Nicole," now 19. CNN agreed not to use her real name.

"I always have to behave, behave, behave, behave. No freedom at all."

The girls’ families sent them to the United States after being assured they would receive a better education. But once they arrived, they were forced to work in hair braiding shops across the Newark area — just a short drive from New York City, right in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

The girls, who are now young women, have never spoken publicly before, until now.

 

 

 

 

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