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Filipina DH jailed 4 weeks for offering sex online

08 September 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao
The magistrate said the defendant's financial need did not justify her engaging in prostitution
A 44-year-old Filipina domestic helper who pleaded guilty to breaching her condition of stay by engaging in prostitution was jailed for four weeks today, Sept 8, by an Eastern Court magistrate.

J. F. Sarmiento’s lawyer said in mitigation that the defendant committed the offense to make extra money due to financial need. But he was rebuked by Magistrate Bina Chainrai, who said her need for money does not justify her committing the offense.

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“Is financial need a ground for mitigation?” the magistrate told the lawyer with sarcasm.

In sentencing the defendant, Chainrai said, “Your employment contract states that you can’t take on another work other than as a domestic helper.”

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The magistrate gave Sarmiento a one-third discount for pleading guilty to the charge and sent her to jail for four weeks.

The charge sheet read to the defendant said that during a police operation on Sept 6 against illegal sex workers in Wanchai, an officer on cyber patrol found an advertisement offering sex to interested males. The ad had a contact number, 9380 4424.

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An officer dialed the number and a woman arranged a meet-up outside the Wanchai MTR station. The undercover officer then met with the defendant.

The two went to Room 118 on the first floor of Park Excellent Hotel in Lap Hing Bldg on Hennessy Road where the woman said she would charge $1,500 for one full sex.      

The officer paid $1,500 in marked money and went to the shower as instructed by the defendant. When he emerged, he announced he was an officer and arrested the woman. The marked money, a KY Jelly bottle, a red handbag and a mobile phone were seized.

Police said Sarmiento admitted the offense under caution during investigation.

The prosecution said she had a clear record. The prosecutor said the Immigration Department confirmed the defendant was a domestic helper at Elizabeth House in Causeway Bay.

In mitigation, the defense lawyer said Sarmiento was a single mother whose husband left her nine years ago. She is supporting her two daughters, one aged 17 and another who was 15 when she gave birth to a boy, now 7 years old.

An older Filipina who was in the courtroom with two compatriots, later approached the court interpreter outside the courtroom and was overheard as saying she was Sarmiento’s employer.

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