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 business for organised criminal syndicates. The demand for sex with children among both local and foreign men has continued to fuel child sex tourism. Rising internet usage rates, the availability of mobile phones and poverty has fostered online child sexual exploitation.
Remy was 12 years old when she ran away from a verbally and sexually abusive family. During a night out with friends she was introduced to a man who offered her a job in a club in Cotabato City. Upon arrival Remy was sold to the manager of a sex club where she was forced to provide sexual services for men under the threat of violence. Feeling hopeless, Remy was finally rescued by police when trouble at the club led the manager to move her and others to Cebu City.
I was only 12 years old when I was first sold for sex.
When I was small we lived in the city. Our home was always chaotic. It was a place where people fought and quarrelled. My father didn’t care about us. He was always in jail and he wasn’t there to protect us. Our house had a dirt floor. We slept together because there was only one room. I had to take care of my siblings. There were hurtful things my mother would say to me. She would say that I was just like my father, worthless and useless. I believed her. I believed I was useless.
There was one incident with my uncle that happened that I will never forget. I wanted to run during that time. I was scared because he had a knife with him. He raped me and that’s what happened. I decided to run away.
I thought I might find love and care someplace else. I would be given importance I didn’t receive from my family.
I already had friends working in the sex club. During a drinking spree they introduced me to the trafficker. They asked me to join them. They were good to me then. I was so hungry and they fed me. They told me to go to Cotabato City. They said there was lots of money there. They said I would have my own money to buy so many things like clothes. The sex trafficker earned money for bringing me to Cotabato. The sex club paid the trafficker PHP3000 ($73). For me that was my worth.
I was 12 years old when the trafficker sold me. I was introduced to the other call girls. While on duty we would be sold for sex. When I had my first duty I woke up at 5pm. I took a bath and applied makeup. At the club the mamasan (manager) told me there was someone who wanted me at the VIP room. There were men waiting for me. We drank and they touched my body. It was scary, but I felt like it was my fate. I was taken out by this one man who took me to a hotel. We had sex in that place. While I was in the hotel room I was scared. The big man’s body was covered in scars. I needed to do what he wanted because he paid for me. The mamasan got mad if didn’t do what she wanted. There were times when I had 3 men in 1 night. If I was not being sold for sex, I would dance naked.
I worked at that club for 4 months. The owner sold me for profit to foreigners and Filipinos. I felt no hope at all. I felt like a bird trapped inside a cage. I felt like I was inside a cage and no one could help me. The more I felt like I had no hope. I thought that I was so dirty and useless to the world. I’m like a doormat and I could be thrown away. I wanted to die then. I never realised this would happen to me. The bird is sad. Even if it wants freedom, it cannot escape. It is still sad and suffering. He had no hope. The bird will think his life will end there. Just like me.
I hoped for a simple life. A comfortable life and a good family. When I looked in the mirror I saw a person who was dirty, someone who was uneducated and not respectable.
There was trouble in the club. The trafficker said we would go to the port and board a ship. We arrived in Cebu city the next day. The police were there and they got us. We were rescued but I didn’t know we were being helped until later. Then we were brought to Love146. It’s in Love146 that I feel I am taken care of.
In your whole life the happiest moment is to feel free from the darkness. So many things happened to me, but God used Love146. Manila is far from Cebu, but God led me to Love146. Now I feel that I am so important to Him [crying].
God loves me so much. In the past I felt forsaken because I was raped and I was dirty. I was sold and lots of people used me. I thought God didn’t care about me. Now I feel so important to Him [crying].
Whatever is broken in me, God has found the people to complete me again.
Now I am free just like a bird
given its freedom. I can do anything because God has set me free.
As told to Love146