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Philippines: Wising up on sex trafficking

Publish Date: 16 Feb 2005

Source: The Freeman
By Delia Jurado

Wising up on sexual trafficking of women and children

Consider this: The Philippines ranks fourth among nine nations with 60,000 to 100,000 children involved in prostitution.

The Province of Cebu, as the most densely populated island in the country and Cebu City, as the second most significant urban center in the Philippines has successfully promoted the region as a tourist destination where one can mix business with pleasure.

The dark side, unfortunately, is that Cebu is considered as one of the top five areas for child prostitution and sex tourism. Cebu City has become the destination point of internal and domestic trafficking of children as young as 11 to 17 years old coming from Samar, Bohol, Leyte, Negros and Bacolod.

The Philippines has been identified as source, transit and destination country for internationally trafficked persons. Filipinas are trafficked to destinations in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America and most of them are forced to work in the sex industry, 80 percent of the women working in Japan go as entertainers, a primary channel of prostitution in Asia. Domestic helpers in the Middle East are often sexually exploited.

The enormity of this deplorable phenomena, which has become monstrously global, was tackled at a Philippine Conference called Catch-Wise-Consortium Against Trafficking of Children and Women in Sexual Exploitation held last week at the Holiday Plaza in Cebu.

The conference determined to solve the persistence of sex trafficking on a global scale defining the Demand, Supply and Impunity and how it thrives within a background of poverty and a breakdown of a moral and social values. Specifics such as cultural dysfunctions were defined-the perception among many men that women are not created equal and thus, considered as sexual objects.

"The Filipino culture allows men to 'be men'-the worn-out notion that men are naturally polygamous and promiscuous. This explains the utter lack of moral restraint among many men to satisfy their sexual needs at the expense of other women, often times even children. The Filipino male thinks of sex as a rite of passage, that before boys become men, they must test their manhood first. Because of the belief that sex with a virgin restores virility, this notion creates a higher demand for younger women and children to fall prey to the wiles of the trafficker and the sex trade."

A delegation of representatives from the European Union and a German Foundation defined their stand-solving the problem from the source and destination and pledged identified sources of funding.

Significantly, they did make the observation that while Philippine NGOs and government agencies involved in the issue of sexual trafficking of women and children did not lack awareness and assessment, the implementation of solutions was bogged down because of insufficient funding.

They emphasized that the main thrust of their presence was to encourage the agencies to avail of funding. "Out of 45 project proposals they received worldwide, only four came from the Philippines."

It was pointed out that project proposals for financing has been bogged down by the lack of experts who can professionally formulate the request. The conference ended with the signing of a Declaration for Mutual Cooperation against Trafficking among members of Catch-Wise 2005.

They are: Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation-Integrated Development Center, Inc.; Children's Legal Bureau Inc.; End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT)-Philippines; Holy Spirit Center for Women Interacting for New Growth and Services (WINGS); Belen sa Cebu; Karl Kubel Stiftung fir Kind und Familie; the European Commission, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); and the University of San Carlos spearheaded by Frs. Max Abalos and Roderick Salazar, Pres. of the USC.

Copyright © 2005 The Freeman