"I really longed for a good relationship with my father, that is why I tried to get attention from older men."
These are the words of a young woman, let’s call her Hiroko*, who was trafficked from age 15.
At first glance, it looks like Hiroko started working in the sex industry out of her own free will. From the outside, her family situation was normal, but in reality, she had almost no relationship with her father. He was a hard worker and provided for all her physical needs, but did not seem to take an interest in anything else in her life and seldom spoke with her. More importantly, she never felt that she was loved by him. Her biggest need, the need for her father’s love, was not met.
The shop owner at her part-time job started showing sympathy and kindness to her, sharing all kinds of delicious foods and gifts. She was convinced that it is only natural for her to try and repay his kindness through a sexual relationship.
When other men in their 40’s and 50’s, her father’s age group, started noticing her and showered her with compliments and affection, she felt naturally drawn to them.
She started meeting up with older men that would pay her to have a coffee or dinner date. This is called enjo kosai or papakatsu (compensated dating). But chatting to and flirting with them didn’t fill that empty space in her heart.
“Maybe if I have sex with them, I will feel loved.”
For years, she was exploited for prostitution as a minor, not bound by physical chains, but trapped by the need to be loved and accepted.
But that empty feeling did not go away…
until she met Jesus…