Ling came to Singapore believing that her job would simply involve waitressing and selling alcohol in a pub.
In reality, she was shocked to find out that not only did the pub pressurised her into wearing skimpy clothing and performing for the pub clientele, she had to fulfill a monthly sales quota or ‘compensate’ the pub with salary deductions. Her minimum monthly sales target include 300 jars of beer, 120 shots of liquor, and $1000 worth of flower garlands. She also had to get a client to book a table under her name every night.
When she despaired of ever meeting the prohibitively high quota, her manager told her that the only way was for her to get customers to spend more time with her.
One manager told her that she had to ‘catch’ clients and give them a good time.
She considered leaving her job but was told that she had to pay a S$5,000 penalty for resigning in the first 6 months of work. Leaving was not an option since she still owed RMB 20,000 to creditors and she was still expected to support her daughter and mother. She felt that she had no choice but to continue.
Though her understanding is that the company would arrange her accommodation, her employer charged her S$470/month for rent. Her passport was also held by her employer.
Trafficked victims who are deceived about the nature of their employment often feel forced to stay in the job because of financial threats and penalties (illegal debts) made by their employers. Debt bondage arising from illegal debts and recruitment fees further traps them in an exploitative situation.
But the fear that she must eventually sleep with clients broke Ling. Her health had also been suffering from the alcohol she had to drink while serving customers. She left the pub and sought help from HOME.
HOME filed her case to the Taskforce Against Trafficking in Persons on 25 October 2015. The outcome of this case is still pending.
While awaiting the assessment of her case, she was provided with full board in the HOME shelter. HOME also assisted her to liaise with MOM including obtaining temporary employment. Ling has since retrieved her passport with MOM’s assistance.