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Aye

Aye grew up in rural Thailand but was trafficked to Japan to work in a Tokyo bar with other Thai women who were forced to entertain and have sex with customers. She was told she owed a large debt to the traffickers and the women were not free to leave. Aye managed to escape only after being arrested by police for violating visa restrictions and deported home to Thailand, where she returned to rural life. Thailand is not only a source of men, women and children who are taken into slavery in other countries, but also functions as a transit and destination for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Four key sectors of the Thai economy (fishing, construction, commercial agriculture, and domestic work) rely heavily on undocumented Burmese migrants, including children, as cheap and exploitable laborers.

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Ganggang

Ganggang was enslaved in the Philippines at the age of 18 and then trafficked to Japan, where she was imprisoned and expected to entertain and have sex with bar customers. 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.

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Kaew

Kaew entered Japan on a tourist visa in May 1992 at the age of 31, after meeting an agent in Bangkok. She was kept in a “snack bar,” or brothel, in Nagano prefecture, west of Tokyo. Of the estimated 600,000 to 800,000 individuals trafficked across international borders each year, some 80 percent are women and girls. Kaew was one of the thousands of women trafficked annually out of Thailand for sexual exploitation. The major destinations include Japan, Malaysia, Bahrain, Australia, Singapore, and the US. Internal trafficking occurs within the country as well, usually from northern Thailand (where hill tribe women and girls are denied Thai citizenship). In Japan, where she was enslaved, women are trafficked from Thailand, the Philippines, Russia, and Eastern Europe, and on a smaller scale from Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Burma, and Indonesia.

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Nu

Of the estimated 600,000 to 800,000 individuals trafficked across international borders each year, some 80 percent are women and girls. Nu was one of the thousands of women trafficked annually out of Thailand for sexual exploitation. The major destinations include Japan, Malaysia, Bahrain, Australia, Singapore, and the US. Internal trafficking occurs within the country as well, usually from northern Thailand (where hill tribe women and girls are denied Thai citizenship). In Japan, where she was enslaved, women are trafficked from Thailand, the Philippines, Russia, and Eastern Europe, and on a smaller scale from Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Burma, and Indonesia. Nu was repeatedly raped by a relative and escaped to Bangkok at the age of 15 to work as a prostitute. She was tricked into leaving for Japan with the promise of waitress work. She spent ten months enslaved in a “karaoke bar” in Shinjuku, a Tokyo district, and another four years working as a prostitute after her escape. Her narrative describes the involvement of other women in the process of enslavement: a hairdresser friend and the “mama-san” (brothel manager). The percentage of female traffickers is rising. Some have been trafficked themselves and then reappear as recruiters or pimps. Others are blackmailed by criminals. Female traffickers are often the most convincing at deceiving women and girls into accepting fake job offers and so beginning the journey into slavery.

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Nuch

Of the estimated 600,000 to 800,000 individuals trafficked across international borders each year, some 80 percent are women and girls. Nuch was one of the thousands of women trafficked annually out of Thailand for sexual exploitation. The major destinations include Japan, Malaysia, Bahrain, Australia, Singapore, and the US. Internal trafficking occurs within the country as well, usually from northern Thailand (where hill tribe women and girls are denied Thai citizenship). In Japan, where she was enslaved, women are trafficked from Thailand, the Philippines, Russia, and Eastern Europe, and on a smaller scale from Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Burma, and Indonesia. Nuch left for Japan in March 1992 at the age of 27 and was held in Tokyo. She explains that she apparently owed money for the trip and had to work off her debt with clients. After three months in slavery, she was taken to a police station, detained for several months in solitary confinement, and transferred to an immigration detention center, where she was held until the Thai Embassy issued travel documents. She flew back to Thailand in March 1993. Her narrative describes the involvement of other women in the process of enslavement. Her experience was at the hands of a long series of women: a Thai woman who got “extra points” by betraying her, a female agent, a woman who was the “boss,” and the Taiwanese “mama” (brothel manager). The percentage of female traffickers is rising. Some have been trafficked themselves and then reappear as recruiters or pimps. Others are blackmailed by criminals. Female traffickers are often the most convincing at deceiving women and girls into accepting fake job offers and so beginning the journey into slavery.

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Pot

Pot was introduced to an agent in Bangkok in 1990 at the age of 27, and was flown to Tokyo via South Korea. There were up to 20 women working in her brothel at any given time, and she was held there for 18 months. Her pimp was female. Of the estimated 600,000 to 800,000 individuals trafficked across international borders each year, some 80 percent are women and girls. Pot was one of the thousands of women trafficked annually out of Thailand for sexual exploitation. The major destinations include Japan, Malaysia, Bahrain, Australia, Singapore, and the US. Internal trafficking occurs within the country as well, usually from northern Thailand (where hill tribe women and girls are denied Thai citizenship). In Japan, where she was enslaved, women are trafficked from Thailand, the Philippines, Russia, and Eastern Europe, and on a smaller scale from Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Burma, and Indonesia.

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Sumalee

Sumalee was trafficked from Thailand to Japan in 1995, where she was forced through debt bondage into prostitution. She was able to return to Thailand after being arrested by Japanese immigration police. Some men, women, and children from Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, South America, and Africa travel to Japan for employment or fraudulent marriage and are subjected to sex trafficking. Traffickers use fraudulent marriages between foreign women and Japanese men to facilitate the entry of women into Japan for forced prostitution in bars, clubs, brothels, and massage parlors. Traffickers strictly control the movement of victims using debt bondage, threats of violence or deportation, blackmail, passport retention, and other coercive psychological methods; victims of forced prostitution sometimes also face debts upon commencement of their contracts.

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Marcela Loaiza

It is estimated that 290,200 people are living in modern slavery in Japan. The country is the destination for men, women and children trafficked for forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of trafficking victims are foreign women who migrate willingly seeking work, but find themselves trapped in debt bondage, having to work in domestic and sex work to pay off fees incurred. Despite warning from the U.N., it is reported that human trafficking is on the rise in Japan.  Marcela couldn’t afford to pay her daughter's hospital bills when she rang an agent who had recently offered her a job as a professional dancer abroad. The agent paid off the hospital bills and arranged for Marcela to travel to Tokyo. However, upon arrival Marcela was told that she would have to work providing sexual services to men in order to pay off the debt incurred from her travel costs. After 18 months, Marcela was assisted by one of her clients and was able to escape, making her way to the Colombian embassy in Japan and eventually back home to her daughter. 

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Esther Caukill

It is estimated that an estimated 37,000 people are living in modern slavery in Japan (GSI 2018). The country is the destination for men, women and children trafficked for forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of trafficking victims are foreign women who migrate willingly seeking work, but find themselves trapped in debt bondage, having to work in domestic and sex work to pay off fees incurred. Despite warning from the U.N., it is reported that human trafficking is on the rise in Japan. International Children’s Care Advocate Esther Caukill shares her story of finding peace after being trafficked for sexual exploitation to Japan when she was 19.