A recent article from CNN focuses on an issue that I like to discuss on Fil-Am Ako which is human trafficking and how it’s been a major problem in the Philippines. This past January was declared National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month by President Obama but I feel we should not stop there when it comes to awareness of this issue. The 20 year old Filipina, Joy mentioned in the CNN article started working in prostitution at the age of 15 in the notorious Fields Avenue where sex is available from dancers for about 1,200 pesos ($26). Joy turned to prostitution as a means to support her baby and became a victim of human trafficking after her mamasan” (the name given to a woman who oversees work in businesses such as brothels and bars) told her to work in Malayasia where she could make more money. “First I was made to take drugs. Then I was made to service as many as 20 men a day. If I refused they threatened to put me in jail without food,” Joy said. The traffickers refused to let her go home and she was able to make her way back home after her grandmother’s continual pleading with Philippine government officials.
After returning to the Philippines, Joy was penniless but determined to make a fresh star leaving the sex industry. Joy was able to make contact with a non-government organization called the Renew Foundation, established in Angeles in 2005 in order to help eradicate trafficking and empower victims of prostitution. Renew is funded by individual donations as well as grants from UNAIDS and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. This organization offers shelter-based programs, housing, food, legal representation and education courses, all of which aim to help women return to their families or reintegrate into the community. Renew also has a keen interest in helping child victims of the sex trade; an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 children in the Philippines are involved in prostitution rings, according to Minette Rimando, a spokeswoman for the U.N.’S International Labour Organization’s Manila office.
Human trafficking and the sex industry in the Philippines has become growing problem in the country. The sex industry has been fueled by sex tourists who travel to Philippines from all over the world. Many are older men, looking for their version of fun. Renew director Fuller claims a high success rate stating that, “just over 80 percent of the women who come into our program don’t return to prostitution. After providing them with the support they need, like housing, education courses and employment, that’s the figure that don’t return back to the bars.” As I’ve previously mentioned in this blog, stereotypes of Filipinas as “easy” or “lbfms” really angers me and I hope that by reading this article many of you will understand the situations these young women face. For the full article from CNN please click here and for additional updates on the fight against human trafficking please visit MTV Exit which has played a major role in raising awareness in the Philippines.