Story provided by: Diocesan Pastoral Centre for Filipinos
Anna’s parents do not understand why she won’t go back to Hong Kong. It was such a success, they said. It would secure her two children’s future, they said. Only her husband knows what really happened.
In the Philippines, a man had come to the village she lived in. She says he stayed there for three months, eating with the families and speaking of entertainment jobs for some of them. He gave singing lessons and taught people how to dance. One day, he turned up with a hotel brochure for a 3-star hotel in Hong Kong. It was to be an all-expenses-paid, 14-day holiday, he told them. Just so they could have a look around.
Upon arrival in Hong Kong, Anna didn’t stay in a nice hotel as this man had said. Instead, she was put up in Yuen Long in the New Territories with some other women. She was given a haircut and bought new clothes. The women were told they would be going to a well-known bar and were to serve drinks to clients. Again, it was just so they could have a look around. They would be singing there if all went well. It seemed fine. On the 13th day, Anna said she was taken into a room and told how much money she owed. She was to pay for the airfare, the accommodation, the food, the clothes, the haircut. You have to stay and work for us, she was told. Anna was forced to stay in Hong Kong for six months — forced to go out with clients and to have sex with some of them.
Back in the Philippines her family and her parents received remittances. They thought she was earning the money from singing. They never found out what was happening and Anna could never tell them.
*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.
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