Wednesday, March 11, 2009 (Page 3 Lead)
MORE Chinese young women who were forced into prostitution have testified at the Circuit Court in Accra concerning the bitter experiences they endured at the hands of their compatriots in the past year.
The victims, who trembled anytime they recounted the harrowing experiences they had had with men, pleaded with the court to protect them.
According to them, they feared they would be killed by the accused persons, who are believed to be members of a West African human trafficking syndicate.
So far, six girls, who said they hailed from very poor families in China, have testified in the case in which James Xu Jin, 41, said to be the ringleader, his wife, Chou Xiou Ying, and Sam Shan Zifan, his younger brother, have each been charged with conspiracy and human trafficking and have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
All the six were recruited from Harbin, a city in China, under the guise that they were to assist Jin and Chou to run a restaurant in Accra for good salaries.
The story of the girls, whose names have been withheld, are similar in terms of the fact that they all owed Jin, who paid for their air fare and other transport arrangements, their passports were seized and they had to pay a penalty of $50 a day or $1,500 anytime they refused to offer sex, which they were forced to do sometimes four or five times in a day. They also said they relied on tips from their clients for survival, among many challenges.
They were led to give their evidence-in-chief by an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Ms Mary Agbozo, in the chambers of the trial judge, Mrs Elizabeth Ankomah.
The matter was heard in the judge’s chambers to allay the intense fear of the girls.
The accused persons were allowed to stand close to the entrance of the chambers to listen to proceedings, as was required by law.
According to the girls, Jin received payments of $50 an hour or $70 or more for a night, while they either had sex with men at Jin’s brothel, called “Peach Blossom Palace”, situated at Agyemang, La in Accra, or slept in hotels with the men who were mostly Indians, Chinese and Lebanese.
According to the victims, who spoke through an interpreter, the brothel was strictly out of bounds to blacks.
They said they had no choice but to painfully agree to have sex for money when they realised that they had been deceived into believing they were to assist in a restaurant business because they did not have passports, did not know where to seek help, had debts to pay, among many challenges.
Heaps of condoms, contraceptives and other pills believed to facilitate their sex trade were displayed to the court.
During cross-examination from counsel for the accused persons, Mr B. O. K. Johnson, the witnesses said they did not enjoy prostituting. They also stated that they wanted to be taken back home.
An investigative journalist, Mr Anas Armeyaw Anas, whose seven-month investigations led to the arrest of the accused persons on February 14, 2009, has given evidence on the activities of the accused persons.
He produced video and audio tapes on the activities of the accused persons.