CEBU, THE PHILIPPINES – Earlier this month, Cebu’s regional anti-trafficking police unit called IJM for assistance with a rescue operation at an upscale bar in the city. IJM has trained and worked with this unit since they were formed in 2009.
When the unit discovered girls were being sold for sex, they arranged for a meeting at a high-end bar. On June 14, 2014, IJM helped police rescue half a dozen young women and arrest two suspects.
The survivors—five of whom are under 18—said they had no idea they would be sold for sex when they went to the bar. Many were from middle class families and shared similar stories of broken homes or parents who neglected them. They were taken to a government aftercare shelter for survivors of sex trafficking, where they can receive the care and counseling they need to rebuild a stable life.
“This case demonstrates how traffickers prey where vulnerability presents itself, regardless of the victims’ background. Victims can be middle-class; not only the underprivileged are susceptible,” said one IJM attorney after the operation.