A FORMER prostitute paid an emotional homage to King Baudouin at the funeral Mass. One of a handful of people chosen to deliver orations, Luz Oral, a Filipino, praised the King for his fight against the international sex trade. She stood in silence as a writer, Chris de Stoop, read aloud the words she had written. Ms Oral had met the King when he paid a highly-publicised visit to a brothel in Antwerp, and De Stoop said both the King and Queen had wanted her to address the funeral. This was her homage:
Now my friend passed away, who else can help us? I come from Manila. My family is very poor. I was promised a nice job in Europe. But Belgian men put us in a sex club. Belgian men put us in prostitution. We cried and we refused. But nobody could help us. We were forced. We were treated like slaves. When I could run away, I was arrested by police. I had many problems. Last year the King came to see us in Antwerp. We were five girls there. We cried again but it was different tears. The King was holding my arm. He listened to me. Only the King listened to us. He was shocked. There are too many victims here. From Manila. From Bangkok. From Santo Domingo. From Budapest. From eastern Europe. All looking for a better life in the West. All pushed in prostitution. The King was fighting against this sex trade. He was standing up for us. He was a real king. I called him my friend.
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