Jojo was forced into the Philippines’ sex trade after she was displaced by Typhoon Haiyan. In this photo, Jojo tends to her children in her home in Angeles City, Philippines. Photo: Hannah Reyes Morales

By Hannah Reyes Morales
28 April 2017

(The Washington Post) – “We won’t survive if we don’t have each other,” Gemma said.

When Gemma first started working in the red light district of Angeles City, Philippines, at 19, she was given a knife and pepper spray by her sisters. The eldest, Jojo, told her to always text the name and room number of the motel where a man would take her.

Angeles City, dubbed the “Supermarket of Sex,” thrives with foreigners, and Filipina women making money in its bars. Its streets are filled with neon lights, high heels, lingerie and loud music. The sisters never planned to come here. They were honors students in high school, and their mother described them as “godly children.”

At 23, Jojo tried to leave Angeles to finally tend to her field in Leyte. She had just given birth and was going to take care of the baby there. Within a day of moving back, Typhoon Haiyan came. The roof of their house got blown off, the store their mother ran was looted. Jojo and her family had to evacuate to a center. After a month, Jojo left her baby to go back to Angeles.

Jojo and Gemma are among the Filipina women who have found themselves in the Philippines’ sex trade after displacement from typhoons. Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013 and displaced about 4 million people. It was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded. A month after Typhoon Haiyan, the United Nations Population Fund estimates that 5,000 women were subjected to sexual violence. Darlene Pajarito, the head of the State Department’s Philippines anti-trafficking unit, describes the wake of Typhoon Haiyan as a “feast for human traffickers.” [more]

These photos show life for displaced typhoon victims forced into the sex trade

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