Asia

How a Teen Girl Escaped After Being Forced to Work at a Singapore Brothel

A non-profit organization in Singapore has recently released a report that sheds light on human trafficking in the city-state.

The story of how a 14-year-old girl was trafficked to the country was featured in a video produced by Singapore International Foundation through its affiliate content platform Our Better World.

Lilis, a teenager from Indonesia, was told she would get a job as “babysitter or as an attendant in cafes” but instead was coerced into working in a brothel, AsiaOne reports. 

She narrated how she was invited by her two friends to travel abroad for work. At that time, her family was grieving their mother’s recent death and she thought getting a job would at least help with the finances at home.

Before she left for Singapore, she was brought to Batam, where she was informed of the actual job waiting for her abroad: a sex worker.

Forced to work in a brothel, Lilis was ordered to serve and visit hotels with her male customers.

“I was told (by my agent) that I had to wear revealing clothes,” Lilis said. “I told them I couldn’t – I couldn’t do that. But they forced me to do it.”

Lilis revealed that during those moments in her life, she felt a combination of anger, sadness, and fear. And without no one to turn to, she was forced to contend with her predicament by herself.

Locked up in a room with four other equally helpless women under the same situation, she couldn’t go anywhere else.

Her chance encounter with a customer, however, gave her the idea to escape.

One day, a man, believed to be Malaysian, came and picked Lilis from the women in the brothel.  

When she and the man were together in private, the teen told him that she “couldn’t do this”.

Realizing that the girl was being forced to work against her will, the man advised her to escape.

“He asked me to run, to escape and stop doing this,” Lilis narrated.

The next morning, the young girl did run away. She was also fortunate to find a cab with a driver who could speak in Malay. After she told him about her plight, the driver brought her to a police station and didn’t even charge her for the ride.

Her brothel agent was soon arrested by the authorities and Lilis was provided assistance by a charitable organization called Hagar, a group which helps needy women and children.

“These girls from countries in Asia who are in Singapore could have been trafficked,” Wei Ng of Hagar Singapore was quoted as saying. “The trauma they have been through will stay on forever and scar their lives if they’re not helped or rescued from this trade.”

Ng said Lilis revealed how her life became more tragic after her mother’s death as her family members “did not think she was of any worth”.

“It’s so important for us to help them regain trust in others again so that they can be helped further,” Ng added.

With Hagar Singapore’s help, the girl was able to return home to her family.

She recently finished training to be a beautician and is now an apprentice at a beauty salon. 

She dreams of doing hair and makeup for the stars in the future.

“I am happy and grateful that there are people willing to help,” Lilis said.

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