12/01/2009, 00.00
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Seoul: Filipinas forced into sex trade with foreigners and US soldiers

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young
Women enter the country on ‘Arts and Performance’ visas but are soon turned into waitresses who have to sell their bodies if they cannot sell between 200 and 500 drinks a month. Human rights activists want the government to intervene.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – The number of Filipinas entering South Korea on E-6 “Arts and Performance” visas who are eventually forced into prostitution is rising at an alarming rate, NGOs and activists report. For human rights groups, their fate is a “clear case of human trafficking” because the women end up offered as sex slaves to foreign businessmen and US military personnel stationed in the country.

One of the latest cases involves a 28-year-old Filipina named Lorelei (not her real name) who was trapped at “B,” a prostitution establishment for foreigners, located in the Okpo neighbourhood of Geoje City, South Gyeongsang Province.

She was freed after she was able to send SMS messages to Jenny, a friend and a former prostitute, with information about her whereabouts, which enabled police to move in.

Both women had come to South Korea 6 March on an E-6 ‘Arts and Performance’ visa. They were supposed to perform on stage but were quickly made to serve drinks to customers and then prostitute themselves.

The owners of the place set a quota of 200 to 500 drinks each woman had to sell per month; failing that, they had to pay a ‘bar fine’ in the flesh, i.e. prostitution.

Local sources told AsiaNews that US soldiers refer to Filipinas as “juicy girls” and “drinking girls.”

For the past few years, the problem has been getting worse. In 2008, more than 2,000 Filipino women immigrated to South Korea as part of this scam, ending up in the prostitution business.

Kim Hee-jin, director of Amnesty International’s South Korean section, said that the authorities must take strong countermeasures to eradicate the sex trade.

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