Southeast Asia

Young Women Rescued From ‘VIP’ Rooms at Seemingly Innocuous Bar

PAMPANGA, THE PHILIPPINES — Four young women who were once exploited in “VIP rooms” in a seedy bar in the Philippines are now free. This past month, the local anti-trafficking police arrested three suspects, and rescued the young women, including one minor.

The bar seemed nondescript from the outside—a plain front was lit up by flashing neon lights, and a parking lot just off the road invited passerby in for a quick drink. But inside, ten rooms were labeled “VIP,” and in these small spaces girls were routinely sold to the bar’s customers for sex.

Cambodian Officials and NGOs Gather in Momentous Two-Day Workshop

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA — Police, government social workers, and NGO staff dedicated their time to a two-day workshop hosted by IJM Cambodia earlier this month. This committed group of over 130 people spent the two days learning how to work together more efficiently, independently and effectively in their response to domestic sex trafficking crimes.

Connecting Key Players to Protect the Vulnerable

Australian Arrested in Philippines for Abusing School Children

CEBU, THE PHILIPPINES — Michael Refalo, a 61-year-old Australian national, is now behind bars, arrested on two charges of human trafficking by Philippine authorities. The May 13 arrest follows an extensive investigation which uncovered the abuse and exploitation of 14 girls, including 10 suspected minors, over the last three to four years.

Refalo had been living in a small island town near Cebu, Philippines, for the past six years. He was regarded by the community as wealthy and influential.

Trafficking Ring Run by Thai Monk Crumbles with Leader Behind Bars

CHIANG MAI, THAILAND – A Thai monk known as “Pra Chai” is behind bars for trafficking and exploiting teenage boys. Pra Chai is the sixth Buddhist monk to be convicted for sex crimes in an investigation IJM has been supporting since early 2014. 

He was the ringleader of this trafficking ring, and the court’s strong sentence of 124 years reflects the country’s commitment to holding criminals accountable—no matter their position.

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