S’pore woman turns to prostitution to pay debt, marries client

A SINGAPORE woman who turned to prostitution to get out of S$500,000 (RM1.57 million) debts ended up marrying one of her clients.

Businesswoman Pamela Lim ran into financial trouble when she was 29 after a failed business, excessive credit card spending and a get-rich scheme gone wrong.

"I fell out with my family because of the money issue. I even stole and pawned my mum's jewellery out of desperation for a few thousand dollars," Pamela said in an interview with Happiness Notebook.

"My brother was angry and took my house keys away. I was jobless, penniless, and homeless. I was desperate, and ended up doing (prostitution)."

The Straits Times of Singapore published an article on her on Wednesday.

She started to offer sex services to men online through the now-defunct Internet Relay Chat (IRC) in 2004. She would meet her clients for sex at hotels and charged them S$200 per session.

Her turning to prostitution came after she looked for someone to confide in through IRC. However, men started making indecent proposals.

That was when she started to make money in the flesh trade. During her eight months as a prostitute, she had 30 clients, of which three were regular.

On her worst experience, she said a client forced himself on her without wearing a condom.

"We did the first round, then he literally forced himself on me for a second time without protection. I ended up with gonorrhoea. The experience was horrible, I felt humiliated," she said.

Pamela went public with her past last year when she published her autobiography, Love Heals: How I Turn My Life Around. The 109-page book tells the story of how she was duped, cornered by debts, turned to prostitution, and met the man who would become her saviour and husband.

Fate would have it that she met Eric Lim, who would later become her husband.

"Before I met Eric, all the clients I had had wanted my body only for their personal satisfaction. I was, to them, a tall and beautiful girl they could use as an object of carnal pleasure," she wrote in her book.

"Eric was very nice, brought food for me and brought me to see a doctor. He was someone I felt very comfortable with," she added.

He fell in love with her.

"I did ask myself if I should get involved with her," Eric Lim said. "But I told her I would always be behind her.

"I have this feeling that we're meant to be together. I didn't mind her past, the past is the past. This is life, right? We all have issues.

After Pamela's father found out what she was doing, she felt ashamed and tried to commit suicide by drowning herself in the sea.

Eric found her over the long stretch of the East Coast beach. She was rescued by the police and warded in the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

"Back then, I was just out of IMH. I hesitated because I was still going through a lot of stress but Eric wanted the child," said Pamela.

They could only afford a simple dinner of four tables for their wedding.

Pamela was still in debt. Eric was then earning S$2,000 as a technician. He supplemented his income by driving taxi part time.

"It wasn't easy for us to set up this family, we went through a lot of hardship together. He could have walked out of it but he chose to stay," Pamela said.

Pamela now runs a digital marketing business, and she still owes debts of over S$400,000. The couple sometimes struggles with bread and butter issues.

"We are paying off bit by bit," said Eric, now an operations manager in an IT company.

Debt aside, they are leading a happy family life. They stay in a four-room flat in Punggol, have three boys, aged 11, 10 and 3.

Pamela has also mended ties with her brother and mother. "After my mother read my book, she became more loving and understanding," said Pamela.

"I realised my story has a bigger purpose: to bring hope to women who're forced into the prostitution trade," she said.