The women came from different provinces, pursuing the same hope: a stable job in a safe, quiet city.
But the city wasn’t safe for them. They found themselves ensnared in spa work that included being coerced to offer sexual services to customers.
This particular place in the Philippines has a low crime rate. It’s known for being orderly — not the kind of area where people expect human trafficking to happen. These assumptions meant no one was aware that exploitation was happening right in front of them.
But The Exodus Road’s investigators know where to look. They found evidence of trafficking at two spas, information that they shared with law enforcement. Officials acted quickly. The Exodus Road’s team was on hand to support with logistics and to offer care packages to survivors.
14 women were freed from the spas and transferred into aftercare services. 3 women and 2 men who had been trafficking them were arrested and are now facing trial.
When the news broke, the city was shaken by the knowledge that human trafficking happens even behind their seemingly safe, orderly storefronts. Now the community is aware, able to be vigilant in a way that will prevent future exploitation.
As The Exodus Road’s Philippines country director said: “With careful investigation and persistence, you will be able to find [survivors] if you look.”