With today being World Day against Human Trafficking in Persons, we must focus on who is directly affected. According to the United Nations, women and girls account for 98% of the persons being trafficked, with most being used as sex slaves. 4.5 million of them are being exploited for sex across the world, with a total of 21 million persons used as forced labour.
I have personally witnessed the exploitation of women for sex while working in Southeast Asia. The women, mostly in their late teens and up are lured to countries like Singapore by traffickers promising them decent jobs and pay. A vast majority of these women are from the surrounding countries of Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, and so on.
Their home countries offer little hope for them as there are no decent jobs for women who come from impoverished families who are living hard already. The traffickers use charm and promises to make the ‘jobs’ sound attractive while using women and girls already in their grip to help reel them in. Once the women agree to go to work, they are told that the airfare and other small costs will be taken care of by an employer and that they can pay the sum back as they work.
With hopes high, the women and teens accept the offer and make their way to Singapore in hopes of a better life in order to begin to prosper and help their family back home. Once they arrive and get through customs the unknown downward spiral starts to swirl. The trafficker, who could be the employer has the woman or teen hand over their passport for safe keeping and are brought to a small one or two bedroom apartment they will share with twenty other females who met the same fate.
She then learns that the work she will do has been changed as the ‘cleaning jobs’ are no more at the moment. They explain to her that she will work in a pub, and all she must do is get men, mostly foreigners to buy her expensive drinks. The more she can get them to buy, the more money she will make. It starts off this way until she is drawn into the lifestyle where she can be comfortable selling her body. It is like a domino affect of peer pressure as the ones who have been there longer convince the new females that this is okay.
All the while, the employer or ‘master’ keeps adding to her tab the money she owes while holding her passport hostage. I know this story because I have helped a few young women get out of these situations and back home. Torn and battered, some lose a sense of self and are not the same again, or even worse they get sucked back in.