Overview of Trafficking in the Philippines:
Information from US Department of State, Global Rescue Relief, International Justice Mission, The Polaris Project, and Global Slavery Index
The United Nations defines human trafficking (also known as modern slavery) as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion) for an improper purpose including forced labor or sexual exploitation.
In 2014, almost two-thirds (65.8%) of the estimated 35.8 million people* in modern slavery globally were in the Asia Pacific region. Modern slavery exists in the Asia Pacific region in all its forms, including forced labor, trafficking for sexual exploitation, and forced marriage. Throughout the region, particularly in countries such as India and Pakistan, nationals – often including entire families – are enslaved through bonded labor in construction, agriculture, brick making, garment factories and manufacturing. Asian nationals who migrate for low and semi-skilled job opportunities abroad are disproportionately vulnerable to forced labor, particularly throughout the Middle East. Men from Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh working in the Middle East are in forced labor in the construction industry, while women from the same countries, and the Philippines and Indonesia, have been subject to sexual exploitation and modern slavery in domestic or caregivers work.
Forced labor and sex trafficking of men, women, and children within the Philippines remains a significant problem, with cyber-trafficking continuing to increase. Women and children from rural communities, areas affected by disaster or conflict, and impoverished urban centers are subjected to domestic servitude, forced begging, forced labor in small factories, and sex trafficking.
Hundreds of victims are subjected to sex trafficking in well-known and highly visible business establishments that cater to Filipinos’ and foreign tourists’ demand for commercial sex acts. Child sex trafficking, which remains a serious problem, also occurs in private residences, facilitated by taxi drivers who have knowledge of clandestine locations. Child sex tourists include citizens from Australia, New Zealand, and countries in Northeast Asia, Europe, and North America.
In the Philippines, traffickers seek out and exploit children and families impacted by poverty. Very young Filipino children are coerced to perform sex acts for Internet broadcast to paying foreign viewers. Unfortunately, this cybersex trafficking is on the rise; this means that girls like our girls at MRH become targets for sexual abuse via a webcam from anywhere in the world. When they are rescued they need places to help restore their health and worth.
Lack of awareness, political and legal corruption, and poor infrastructure combine to act as a hindrance. And although the Filipino government has made greater efforts to support rescued trafficking survivors, the sheer volume of victims overwhelms their fragile and newly developing survivor assistance programs.
Within the Philippines, there are 300,000-400,000 people trafficked and about 100,000 of those are children. International Justice Mission has been active in the Philippines helping to bring about change through rescues and pursuing criminal cases against traffickers. However, IJM does not directly provide aftercare, which is where My Refuge House comes in. My Refuge House is a safe environment for girls who have been rescued, so they might find restoration and have a future filled with hope.
Find out more about our efforts to Prevent, Restore, and Reintegrate here.
*Click here for an interesting article about the complexity of human trafficking statistics