KAWASAKI — A 15-year-old Filipino girl told a group of Japanese high school students of her experiences of being sexually exploited by foreign travelers and called for a world in which children’s rights are not abused. Raised by poor relatives, of whom she only remembers “shouting and slapping,” after her parents had abandoned her, Pia, who asked that her last name be withheld, was forced to make it on her own at age 8, she told students at Kawasaki Minami High School. Lured by a prostitution broker who said she was going to work “cleaning hotel rooms,” she started to take customers, including Japanese. “Although I knew I was doing something wrong, I was in need of money,” she said through an interpreter. After being rescued by police at the age of 12, Pia has since been living at a shelter run by the PREDA foundation, a nongovernmental organization for abused children based in the Philippine city of Olongapo. Pia is now helping the foundation and publicizing its activities by talking about what she endured at a range of public meetings, including the U.N. Convention on Rights of the Child forum, held in Tokyo last week. “I want people to learn something from my experiences,” she told members of the school’s Volunteer Workers Club and student council. “I want children all over the world to know and fight for their rights,” she said. Asked their reactions to Japanese who visit the Philippines for sex with children, one of the female students said, “I kind of feel ashamed for not knowing there are (so many Japanese men) doing such things.” Asked by a Japanese student what surprised her most during her visit to Japan, Pia responded, “Before I came to Japan, I thought all Japanese were sadists,” adding that she now believes that most Japanese are friendly. Pia also told the students that if they see their friends becoming involved in “enjo kosai,” the euphemistic term for the trend of teen prostitution in Japan, they should instead make the girls feel they are loved by somebody.

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