Story provided by: Diocesan Pastoral Centre for Filipinos
Florence*, a single mother in her late teens, was one day approached by a man in her village about a job opportunity in Hong Kong. After she agreed to take this job, she was told that she owed him HK$33,000 (US$4,250) before she had even left the Philippines. Not only that, the job she had agreed to do was no longer on offer. Instead, she was going to have to work in the sex industry in Hong Kong’s Wanchai district, minutes from the city’s financial centre.
Florence said she was told the payment had already been made for her employment visa fees (cost HK$160), airplane tickets, accommodation and other expenses. The recruiter said he would go to her family unless she boarded the plane. With the debt hanging over her, she was pressured to work in a Hong Kong bar, plying customers with drinks and then later having sex with some of them. The first time she went with a customer, she said she cried before he had even touched her. Florence was given a sustenance payment every week, which she depended on to pay for her family’s medical expenses back in the Philippines. Florence was told that she had to remain in Hong Kong for the total of half a year and only after these six months of work was she finally paid and allowed to return home.
*All names & identifying information have been changed to protect the identity of the survivor.
Human trafficking indictors in this case
Common work and living conditions:
- Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
- Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
- Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
- Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
- Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
- Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
- Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
- High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior
- Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
- Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
- Avoids eye contact
- Poor Physical Health
Lacks health care
- Appears malnourished
- Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Lack of Control
- Has few or no personal possessions
- Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
- Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
- Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
- Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
- Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
This list is not exhaustive and represents only a selection of indicators in this particular case. Also, the red flags in this case may not be present in all trafficking cases and are not cumulative. Learn more about human trafficking here!
Are you or someone you know being trafficked?
Is human trafficking happening in your community? Recognizing potential red flags and knowing the indicators of human trafficking is a key step in identifying more victims and helping them find the assistance they need.
To request help or report suspected human trafficking, call us at (852) 6465 2224 or email at email@example.com.