Anna’s* parents couldn’t 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. But only her husband knew what really happened.
In the Philippines, a man had come to the village where they lived. Anna said he stayed for three months, eating with the families and speaking of entertainment jobs that could be available for 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-expense-paid, 14-day holiday, he told them, just so they could have a look around.
But once in Hong Kong, Anna didn’t stay in a nice hotel. She was put up in Yuen Long, in the New Territories with some other women. She was given a haircut and some new clothes. The women were then told they would be going to a well-known bar and they were to serve drinks to customers. Again, it was just so they could have a feel of the city. They would be singing there if all went well. It all seemed fine at first. Then on the 13th day, Anna said, she was taken into a room and told how much money she owed. She had to pay for everything – the airfare, the accommodation, the food, the clothes, the haircut. “You have to stay and work for us now,” she was told. Anna was then forced to stay in Hong Kong for six months — and forced to go out with customers and to have sex with them.
During this time, her family and her parents back in the Philippines occasionally received money, but they thought she was earning the money from singing. They would never come to know what really happened to her because Anna felt she could never tell them.
*All names and identifying information have been changed to protect the identity of the survivor.
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A version of this story was originally published at www.stophk.org on July 21, 2015. Story provided by the Diocesan Pastoral Centre for Filipinos.