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It is because she keeps a secret from her classmates: She sells her flesh to pay her school bills. Sofia works as a GRO guest relations officer in an elite night club and offers sexual services to men, mostly foreigners. The IJM is a human rights organization that rescues victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.
Bungcaras said that based on the cases he had handled, students were prostituted not only because they needed to pay the tuition. Other reasons include financial independence, materialism and peer pressure where students feel the need to have what their friends have, he said.
Sofia, who hails from Negros Oriental, was left to the care of her aunt when she was 12 years old after her father died and her mother abandoned her. After graduating from high school, the year-old lass moved from Negros Oriental to Cebu to pursue a college degree.
Little did she know that school fees in Cebu were expensive. For three years, she did odd jobs—from housemaid to salesgirl—so she could save enough money for her tuition. But the pay was not enough to even cover her basic needs. She quit being a salesgirl and had been unemployed for a while. Since work was hard to come by for a high school graduate, she took it.
The pay was good though, and that made her decide to stay in the business. A gathering of GROs is called a show-up. I am one of those. Her income allows her to buy food, as well as pay for her board and lodging, and other school fees. Sofia said she also spent on a new cellular phone, clothes and even shabu methamphetamine hydrochloride to keep her up all night. She is more afraid of getting killed by her customers without any witnesses inside the hotel than dying of AIDS.