Story provided by: Diocesan Pastoral Centre for Filipinos
The allure of trafficking and its financial rewards has, in some cases, led individuals to turn on their own family members. In August of 2010, two Philippine nationals Nicole and Danielle were lured into Hong Kong by an aunt promising them jobs as waitresses, where they would earn HK$80 per hour. When they arrived, however, they were immediately transported to a nightclub in Wan Chai and forced to pay HK$1,500 each for their own accommodation, and an additional HK$500 to the building security guard. Their actual work involved dressing in skimpy clothing and providing sexual services to customers, for which they would receive HK$800 as a reward.
Nicole and Danielle found their work environment to be exceedingly difficult, having to endure the continual physical and verbal sexual advances of the nightclub customers, and they ran to seek assistance from the Philippines Consulate. The Consulate took immediate action, referring the women to the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB) of the Hong Kong Police Force. On the basis of their testimony, the OCTB conducted a raid of the premises, arresting five female Philippines nationals. The group of five produced Foreign Domestic Helper visas and claimed that they happened to be at the nightclub to celebrate a birthday, though the OCTB suspected that the traffickers had coached them on what to say. Faced with unclear and non-existent guidelines on how to identify potential victims of trafficking, the OCTB transferred the case to the Immigration Department on suspicion of breaching their condition of stay. The two cousins agreed to act as witnesses for the prosecution.
As the case progressed, the traffickers contacted the families of the cousins, sometimes posing as employees of the Philippines Consulate. They made various threats against the safety of the Nicole and Danielle, promising to make their lives increasingly difficult and dangerous if they continued to act as witnesses for the prosecution. Despite the scare tactics, the two women persisted in cooperating with the authorities and, in March of 2011, they were able to testify in court about their experiences with the accused. As a result of Nicole and Danielle’s testimony, the traffickers were convicted of Trafficking in Persons and Aiding and Abetting the Breach of their Conditions of Stay. They were sentenced to 21 months and 18 months imprisonment, respectively.
*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 firstname.lastname@example.org.