shield arrow-simple-alt-top arrow-simple-alt-left arrow-simple-alt-right arrow-simple-alt-bottom facebook instagram linkedin medium pinterest rss search-alt shaper twitter video-play arrow-long-right arrow-long-left arrow-long-top arrow-long-bottom arrow-simple-right arrow-simple-left arrow-simple-bottom readio arrow-simple-top speaker-down plus minus cloud hb pin camera globe cart rotate Group-35 star edit arrow-top arrow-right arrow-left arrow-bottom check search Close square speaker-up speaker-mute return play pause love new-tab equalizer

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

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.

'From the outside you would not think it was a thriving place with sex work,' comments IJM Pampanga’s Director of Legal, 'It just seems innocuous from the outside, but inside you find about 10 VIP rooms.'

'Everything Started to Become Clear Again'

In addition to the evidence gathered at the bar and in the VIP rooms, the survivors’ testimonies revealed the hidden operations of the establishment. The girls were initially unaware of the true nature of the bar, and when revealed, the young women faced threats by the owner if they did not comply.

The young women exploited at this bar came from different backgrounds, but most had ended up here searching for work. According to an IJM Pampanga social worker: 'A lot of them first got there because they were in great need. One of them had a child already and was worried about food.'

The social worker relayed the story of one woman who was working at the bar, struggling to support her entire family and send her siblings to school. 'She felt that she had no other way to get a bigger income and support her family,' the social worker explained. However, once telling her about new opportunities, such as a social-enterprise organization IJM partners with, the social worker remembers, 'She was very, very happy; very hopeful, suddenly everything for her started to become clear again.'

Joint Collaboration Leads to Rescue

The rescue operation on 28th of May involved close coordination between multiple government agencies. The IJM-assisted operation into the bar was led by the Regional Anti-Trafficking Task Group 3 (RATTG3) with manpower from the 3rd Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB3) and with support from the Department of Justice, whose regional anti-trafficking task force head conducted the inquest.

IJM has worked closely with the RATTG3 in the past, both through training its members and in operations. In the first quarter of 2015, IJM has helped authorities rescue nearly 50 victims of sex trafficking throughout the Philippines.

Upon their rescue, the victims gave their statements to the RATTG3. IJM lawyers and social workers were on-site to assist with the evidence gathering and care for the survivors, along with Department of Social Welfare and Development social workers.

IJM will continue to support this case and provide assistance to survivors. The rescued minor is currently in an aftercare shelter where she will begin the journey toward restoration.

The three suspects were charged with Qualified Trafficking for trafficking of a minor. Two of the suspects were floor managers in the bar and the third was involved in operations. The bar owner is currently at large, but also faces charges.

You might also be interested in…

About Stories see more
Twenty Years Enslaved at a Mango Farm – Now Free

Survivor Leaders in the Released Bonded Labourers Association (RBLA) rallied authorities to rescue a couple who had been enslaved at a mango farm for about 20 years. IJM had known about this couple since 2016, but they were always too scared to ever share the truth about their experience, due to the power of the owner.
Joint operation rescues 4 minors, arrests 2 suspects of online sexual exploitation of children

An Aussie police tip-off has led Philippine authorities to rescue 4 young children from cybersex trafficking and arrest their guardians. The 3 girls and 1 boy were aged between 2 and 8. Tragically, they were in the care of a couple who instead of protecting them, offered to livestream their sexual abuse in exchange for money.⠀

Social Media Helps IJM Partner NGO Rescue of 56 from a Brick Kiln

IJM and our casework partner Jai Bhim Vikas Shikshan Sansthan (JBVSS) supported a complicated rescue operation in the state of Haryana. Fifty-six people—including many young children and babies—were brought out of bondage at a brick kiln, aided by the use of social media during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Three Children Free from Child Slavery in Ghana

During May's lockdown, police and IJM conducted an operation to bring three children, two boys and one girl, to safety from slavery on Lake Volta.

You Can Help Send Rescue Today.

When you give a gift today, you’ll be fighting slavery, violence, and injustice across the globe. Together, we can end slavery and violence in our lifetime.

You can make the most impact as a Freedom Partner today.

Your generous monthly support will help send rescue to vulnerable children and families at a moment’s notice, stand with them as they rebuild their lives in freedom and have perpetrators held accountable.


Donor Portal

Review your giving, tax statements and contact info via the IJM Donor Portal.

please sign in
Email Sign Up
Get updates from IJM on stories from the field, events in your area and opportunities to get involved.
sign up