Taiwanese trafficking victim who escaped POGO sex den comes forward
File photo shows Sen. Risa Hontiveros.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo, File
Taiwanese trafficking victim who escaped POGO sex den comes forward
Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - February 12, 2020 - 2:10pm

MANILA, Philippines — A 23-year-old Taiwanese national who escaped a prostitution den connected to Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators revealed how she was abused and held against her will by employers who apparently claimed the illegal business is backed by government officials.

The woman recounted her experience in a Wednesday press conference held by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.

The committee previously held a hearing to “examine the circumstances that push women to work under exploitative conditions with the end in view of crafting legislation and policies that will address the root cause that drove these women into employment that does not respect and fully utilize their potential."

RELATED: 'Women for order': Hontiveros slams Chinese prostitution dens in POGO industry

“I came here with a tourist visa. My first company took away my passport and 'til now I cannot find my passport. And for the first time, I don’t know it’s an illegal business here. I know nothing. The only thing I know is that I wanna have a job,” the Taiwanese national said.

“They threatened me. My boss threatened me and abused me. Mental and physical. I already told them that I want to go home. I want to go home in Taiwan. But they forced me to work for them.”

The woman said that her bosses would claim that they "they have a protector behind them," referring to unidentified government people.

“So I think even if I run away... they would still find me and hurt me.”

The woman said she was treated like a slave, prohibited from using her cell phone and prevented from leaving.

“Every time my boss, when he is mad, he always shouted in Chinese. ‘You are now my slave. I already bought you from another boss.’ So they said I have to work for them.”

“I even tell them that…‘The only thing I want is my passport. If you don't give my salary, it's okay.’”

Hontiveros said that the trafficking victim is a "human face" of a systemic issue tied to the proliferation of POGOs in the Philippines.

RELATED: Rise in sex trafficking coincides with POGO boom — NGO

“Sinasabing dapat i-review kung itutuloy pa ba o isu-suspend yung POGO. Mukhang maraming krimen ang nakatali sa POGO. Illegal recruitment, illegal detention, sexual harassment, at iba pa (and others). POGO brings crimes,” the senator said during the press conference.

(It’s being discussed whether we should suspend or allow POGOs to operate. It appears that many crimes are tied to POGOs.)

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