MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES – Yesterday, two traffickers were sentenced to life in prison for trafficking minors for sex. IJM represented the survivors of this abuse in the four-year trial. After the just ruling was announced, IJM staff joined the trafficking survivors and their families for a meal together.
Josephine* was only 16 years old when she was rescued. When she learned of the conviction against the man who had recruited her and the owner of the bar where she was routinely raped, she said, "I am happy today because I know that neither our recruiter nor the bar owner will have the opportunity to victimize young girls again."
Today, Josephine is married and has a family of her own. She works for a cosmetics company that gives young women from challenging backgrounds vocational opportunities. Since Josephine and the two other girls were rescued five years ago, IJM social workers have walked closely with the survivors.
Although the owner of the bar was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation on the night of the rescue operation, the man who recruited the girls and worked as the floor manager remained at large for two years. An IJM investigator worked tirelessly to locate him, and ultimately coordinated with police to secure his arrest.
Each of the girls courageously chose to testify in the trial against the traffickers – even when the owner attempted to bribe their families to make them drop the case. In addition to life imprisonment, the traffickers were fined and ordered to pay each of the survivors substantial moral damages.
IJM attorney Liw Agbayani explained that the guilty verdict proves that perseverance among "law enforcers, supportive parents, strong resolve to prosecute and candid narration of courageous victims will result in justice being served."
*A pseudonym has been used for the protection of this IJM client.