PAMPANGA, THE PHILIPPINES – This weekend, a new day began for girls rescued from a small bar selling underage girls for sex on one of Pampanga's main streets. IJM assisted the Philippine National Police with a rescue operation on Friday, November 16, 2012.
That night, the young women received critical care, and IJM worked with government officials to record the survivors' testimonies and document other evidence to demonstrate they are victims of human trafficking. Several girls appeared to be minors, and one actually told police that she was under 18. Often, victims of trafficking are afraid to admit their true ages immediately after being rescued: Bar owners and brothel managers frequently train girls to say they are older than they actually are (and use threats and lies to ensure that they do) as a way to cover up the fact that they have trafficked minors. All of the young women rescued on Friday night will stay at an aftercare shelter until their ages are confirmed.
IJM will continue to advise police as they issue a warrant and search for the suspects responsible for trafficking girls to the bar.