By Kassi Berg
Last week Attorney General Victoria Roe brought Palau’s reputation for tolerating prostitution into mainstream discussion.
A criminal complaint was filed against fourteen defendants, viagra 100mg including the alleged owners, price managers, customers and “prostitutes” working at the Shangri-la Massage and Spa and the DW Motel. These defendants have been charged with human trafficking, prostitution, money laundering, and human labor violations. Some of the counts carry penalties of up to 25 years in prison entitling some defendants to a trial-by-jury. The list of defendants includes the former President of Palau’s brother, an attorney, an immigration officer, and a police officer.
The Affidavit of Probable Cause tells the tale of tourists seeking sex from Filipina workers who were brought to Palau as “massage therapists,” “cooks” and “clerks.” The manager of the operation, Richard Huang (aka Feng Jui Huang), is a Taiwanese national and according to the Affidavit, the clientele appeared to be primarily Taiwanese and local Palauan men.
The Affidavit claims that while the women were hired to work as “massage therapists,” none of the women were trained as massage therapists and were told if they needed instructions on how to perform such acts as oral sex they should seek instruction from the “mamasang,” Mylene Bautista, also a named defendant.
The Filipina women allegedly arrived in Palau already in debt to their employer for $1500, an amount that the employer claimed as reimbursement for hiring and relocation. To receive their monthly salary, the women had to reach a quota of 30 massages a month equivalent to 30 points. Performance of a regular massage was given one point and providing some form of sex would earn the women an enhanced two points. If the customer did not pay, no point would be earned. After duty at the Shangri-la Massage, the girls were also “on-call” at a bar upstairs where they also engaged in prostitution. The girls were performing these “special” massages for $100 USD of which they kept $50 USD.
According to the Affidavit, the girls were intimidated and threatened. They were kept in something akin to a lock-down and in the event of any departure from the premises they would be fined at the rate of $30.00 per hour.
The Affidavit also states that the girls felt they had no choice but to perform sex as they had a massive, early debt to their employer and needed to earn money to go back home, if they were to ever be able to leave Palau. The Republic’s case alleges that the girls were made to have sex with men against their will and were even driven off-premises to have sex with men at other hotels in Palau and even in private apartments. The employer allegedly provided condoms, but not all customers agreed to wear them.
The issue of human trafficking and forced sex labor in Palau was exposed in a show produced by the Public Broadcasting Service that aired on October 12, 2012. The US Department of State currently ranks Palau as a Tier 2 country in Human Trafficking since it does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking for “forced labor, debt bondage and forced prostitution.”
By Kassi Berg