In the Philippines, women and children are subjected to sexual exploitation in brothels, bars, and massage parlours, online, as well as in the production of pornography. The Philippines is an international hub for prostitution and commercial sex tourism – a highly profitable businesses for organised criminal syndicates. The demand for sex with children among both local and foreign men has continued to fuel child sex tourism. Rising internet usage rates, the availability of mobile phones and poverty has fostered online child sexual exploitation. Like many others who find themselves enslaved in situations of sexual exploitation, Cristy was told that she owed her employers all of the money she earned, and kept in debt bondage until the brothel was raided by police.
My name is Cristy and I am 26 years old. I grew up in the southern part of the Philippines and I was the only girl in a family of seven children. I had a very strong relationship with my father and I was devastated when he died. I was just 12 years old. When he died I really couldn’t accept it. I wished that it had been my mama who had died. My father had always given me whatever I wanted but my mama was not like that. Soon after my father died my mother remarried and I was not happy. The worst thing she did was to allow my younger brother to be adopted by my aunty. They are in a different country now. I still cannot forgive her for this.
After completing elementary school I attended high school for only one year. Then I ran away to Cebu. I was 14 years old. At that time I met a German guy who became my boyfriend. I lived with him for a few years until I found out that he had another woman. I was so angry and upset and was always asking myself why he fell in love with another woman.
After this I met a woman who had the same name as me. She knew that I needed money and introduced me to Kamagayan [the red light district of Cebu City]. She had a rental property where girls like me also lived. While I was there this woman sold me to a foreigner. She told me I only had to massage him, but I did not know that the foreigner had paid plenty of money to her and that she had promised I would have sex with him. This man was physically abusive to me and forced me to take drugs. I can say that he was a sadist. He enjoyed looking at a woman being in pain before having sex.
After that experience I continued to stay in Kamagayan. I was raped and subjected to many violent acts. I was so drugged up that sometimes I would go without sleep for 24 hours. When I took drugs, I lost my appetite and I couldn’t sleep. When the effect of the drugs wore off I wanted another shot. If I am on drugs, I can entertain men because I am not ashamed. But if I am not on drugs I don’t like customers.
I did not receive even five pesos the whole time I was there, because my employer would just give me dresses and drugs and then she would tell me I owed a lot of debts to her.
I can now say that I was a victim of trafficking. After four months of living in Kamagayan, the place was raided by police and an NGO here in Cebu. I was happy because I could escape. What kept me going was the thought that I could make money and bring my little brother home.
If you are a girl and new to the city you should be careful and you should not go to disco bars. You should choose your friends because there are plenty who are snatchers and who are sweet talkers who will take you to a place that is not good. I think if I had not run away from home I would have finished my schooling and then finished a degree and worked. However, on the other hand, because I ran away from place to place, I found out that I can be alone and independent.
As told to Our Community in their report 'I Have a Voice: Trafficked Women - in their own words' by Angela Reed & Marietta Latonio