CEBU, THE PHILIPPINES – IJM assisted anti-trafficking police with back-to-back operations at two different karaoke bars where girls had been trafficked.
Five young women were rescued from the first karaoke bar. At HerSpace, the safe government shelter set up for trafficking survivors, each one signed statements that will be used as evidence in court against the suspected traffickers. IJM will represent the survivors as the case develops.
One of the underage girls who was rescued in the operation said her uncle started raping her when she was just 9 years old. She eventually set out on her own in search of work, vulnerable and alone. The job at the karaoke bar only perpetuated the cycle of violence that was all too familiar to the teen. When her mother found out that she had been rescued from the bar, she encouraged her daughter to stay at the government shelter to receive care and assistance. Along with support from IJM social workers, the shelter can provide her counseling and care, along with vocational skills training to help her build a future much more secure than her past.
On the same night, there were others still waiting for rescue.
The team of police and IJM staff drove to another karaoke bar selling trafficked girls for sex. They worked quickly to rescue several more women and girls, bringing them to the same safe location where IJM and government social workers were on hand to provide crisis care. One of the adult women was pregnant and eager to remain in the government shelter so she and her baby can receive the care they need.
The bar owner was arrested and will face trafficking charges along with the suspects from the other bar.