Ganggang was enslaved in the Philippines at the age of 18 and then trafficked to Japan, where she was imprisoned and expected to entertain and have sex with bar customers. In the Philippines, women and children are subjected to sexual exploitation in brothels, bars, and massage parlours, online, as well as in the production of pornography. The Philippines is an international hub for prostitution and commercial sex tourism – a highly profitable businesses for organised criminal syndicates. The demand for sex with children among both local and foreign men has continued to fuel child sex tourism.
My name is Ganggang. I have two older brothers and one younger sister. When I was younger, I graduated high school. My father was a hardinero at a local college, so I would have gotten a reduced tuition if I had decided to go to school there. I could have gone to college, but the course I wanted to take was not offered so I decided not to go. Instead, I wanted to just hang with my “barkada.” This did not make my mother happy, especially when I stayed out late at night. We fought about this several times.
When I was 18-years-old a gay friend of mine told me about a woman who was looking for girls to work in Japan. He went with me to see the woman. She told me that she was looking for singers and dancers to work in Japan. I was very excited; I enjoy singing and I have always wanted to work overseas. I ran home to tell my mother about the great opportunity, but all she did was get mad. She did not want me to leave with the woman. I convinced my mother to let me go.
The women told me it would cost P30,000 to get to Japan. I told her that we did not have the money, but she was very kind and said she would loan us the money.
Within a week I was on a boat going to Manila. As soon as we landed in Manila I was taken to a house. I was not allowed to leave the house. Food was brought in and I was trained how to dance and serve drinks to customers. After one month of training I was told I was going to Japan. I was handed travel papers that looked legal to me and had all my correct data on them. I went to the airport. I did not talk to anyone at the airport about my travels; my caretakers did it all. I got on the plane with about 15 other girls. We were all very excited.
As soon as we got off the plane in Japan our passports were taken away from us. We were taken by van, with tinted windows, to a dormitory. We were not allowed to leave. That night we were taken to the club we were to work at. We were told to only observe and sit with customers. After one week we were instructed to dance and sing. If the girls were good singers they let them continue to sing, but if they were not they were immediately asked to "go out" with customers.
They allowed me keep singing which made me very happy. After a couple of weeks a customer had come in and asked to “go out” with a particular girl, but the girl was not there. She was sick. The club owner offered the customer to “go out” with me instead. That night the customers forced himself on me. He was nice though and I made good money that night. After that I figured, "Nabasa na man ko, maligo na lang!"(I’m already wet, so I will just take a bath!). Besides, we were being watched all the time. I could not have escaped.
Soon I had many customers. Some would hit me and abuse me. One time I thought I was going to die. I was forced to do things I didn’t like to do. If I refused to "go out" with a customer one of the owners would beat me. In time I met two nice customers who were the only two men to "take me out". They would take me out and show me Japan. I was in Japan for one year, before I was allowed to return to the Philippines. In that year the owner kept all my earnings and my passport. It was not until I arrived at the airport to return to the Philippines that I was given any money and my passport back.
When I returned home all the money I had made was spent within two-three months.
My family continued to pressure me to return to Japan to make more money. I don’t know if my family knows what I do in Japan, but sometimes my brothers tease me about what my job is there. The whole family still wants me to return to Japan. Eventually I gave in and returned to Japan. I still continue to go back to Japan and return with a little money for my family.
Ganggang told her story to the International Organization for Migration in 2005.