Story provided by: Diocesan Pastoral Centre for Filipinos
Victims of human trafficking are often lured by the prospect of employment and financial security, but in this case, the trafficking came in the form of a free holiday abroad. In 2012, a Thai woman, Kamon*, flew to Hong Kong to visit Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park on tickets paid for by a friend, or so she thought. She was met at the airport and taken to a flat in Jordan instead, where she was forcibly tied to a bed and raped by several men. The second john ended up giving her HK$100, which, after escaping out of a window, she took a taxi to the nearest police station.
Kamon intend to press charges, but during the suspect identification process, the traffickers’ lawyer opened a folder to show her a note with a written message, asking her how much she wanted in exchange for withdrawing the charges. She did not respond at that time, but while waiting for the case to go to trial, she returned to Thailand.
In 2013, she returned to Hong Kong to act as a witness for the prosecution, and it was determined that she would require counseling prior to the court hearing. Attempts to get a translator from the Center for Harmony and Enhancement of Ethnic minority Residents (CHEER) were unsuccessful, though a translator from the Diocesan Pastoral Care for Filipinos (DPCF) was later found. In the initial counseling session, she was found to be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and would require continued counseling throughout the duration of the trial. Again, an attempt to secure counseling with CHEER was unsuccessful, and the application was rejected.
On the day of the actual hearing, upon arriving at the courthouse, Kamon was informed that the hearing would not take place that day as the prosecution needed more time with the case-related documents. Upon hearing that setback, Kamon returned to Thailand without providing any testimony, and when a person claiming to be a police officer began harassing her mother to admit on tape that her daughter was a prostitute, an illegal profession in Thailand, Kamon decided not to return to Hong Kong. The ongoing harassment of her family, the multiple case delays in Hong Kong, and the threat of danger to her and her household back in Thailand proved to be too much to bear, and she eventually withdrew herself from the case.
*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
- 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
- Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
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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