Human trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most insidious and evil form of enslavement. That is because it is so personal and inflicts such human degradation and suffering on individuals day after day, year by year. It is one of the most serious kinds of human rights violations.
Earlier this year, 26 teenagers aged from 14- to 17-years-old were rescued from the Golden Victory Hotel and the Villa Luli and Inev Resort in Mabalacat City, near Angeles City, Pampanga, by the Women and Children Protection Centre of the Philippine National Police (PNP) based in Camp Crame, headed by General William Macavinta.
The children were victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation by the traffickers and hotel operators and foreign and local sex tourists. The children were rescued and twenty of the victims were brought to the Preda Foundation’s home for trafficked girls. They were traumatised and conditioned by relatives and traffickers to work as sexually exploited children.
It is very important that we all understand what is going on in Asia and the world where human traffickers are vicious criminals. They are enslaving women and children in the sex trade and making them work long hours satisfying the lust and deviant sexual fantasies of immoral men for little or no money.
They control and virtually imprison the victims by threats and intimidation. Many are lured from poor villages and remote towns to the sex industry in cities and sold into sex bars where they are held in debt bondage. They are afraid to leave with unpaid debts for board and lodging and drugs.
That is what is insidious about the crime of human trafficking. It is life-long bondage and control, and the victims are condemned to suffer a life of sexual violence. The sex abusers, foreign or local, can rape and abuse with impunity. The young women and children are afraid to complain or run away. They are drug dependent and have debts to the drug pushers.
If only the president, Rodrigo Duterte, would crack down on the pushers and drug peddlers inside the sex bars and brothels that run on mayor’s permits, and that enslave our young people. It would be a great act of statesmanship.
In today’s world, slavery is common. In every country, there are enslaved people. Most of 24.5 million victims are women and 33 per cent are children. They are almost always very poor, unemployed, not well educated and vulnerable. They are victims of organised crime syndicates and used for forced labour or underpaid work that includes working in factories, on fishing vessels and as farm labourers or held in sexual enslavement.
Other victims of human trafficking in Europe are refugees, asylum seekers and migrants fleeing poverty and violence. The exploitation and abuse of these people happens in migrant reception centres and refugee camps on the doorsteps of Europe.
Many of them and their families have been ruined by war and, having sold their land and property to speculators and paid traffickers to get them to Europe, many more borrowed money and are in debt bondage to traffickers. They will have to pay the traffickers and end up enslaved for dozens of years.
Along the trafficking journey, hundreds of minors have been sexually exploited. It is part of their survival and out of shame and fear they almost never report it or admit it happens. As many as 33,000 migrants died trying to enter Europe between 2000 and 2017 and many more since then. It is a present ongoing crime by human traffickers.
According to Emmaus International, after the arms and drug trade, human trafficking is the third most lucrative and widespread form of criminal activity and exploitation. It generates €32 billion a year. Every year, around 2.5 million new victims—mainly women and children—are recruited and exploited worldwide.
It is not all doom and gloom. Many are fighting back and confronting the evil trade in humans. More and more traffickers are being brought to justice and some are convicted. Much more needs to be done.
Those 20 minors rescued from the sex industry in Mabalacat and brought to the Preda Foundation home for abused children are recovering and have broken out of their “enslaved mentality.” That is the conditioning whereby they are made to believe that they are good for nothing other than to be drug dependent sex workers.
Now they feel free and have a new enlightened outlook on themselves and their future. This is due to the Anger and Pain Release Therapy that they choose to have several times a week at the Preda home. The therapist encourages them to challenge and confront those people, the traffickers and abusers who hurt, humiliated and abused them. The teenagers are urged to release their pent up, buried feelings of hurt emotions, of anger and frustration at them.
In the session, the girls began shouting out their anger and pain, even hatred erupted as some screamed as they punched the cushions. In their imagination, they were punching their abuser and tormentor.
After weeks of this, with support, counselling, comfort and encouragement from the all-female staff, the teenagers began to recover and change. They grew in self-confidence and self esteem. The positive reinforcement therapy built up their self-image as good persons with rights and power to get justice. They became involved in all the games, sports, group dynamics and learning activities.
From sad, angry, withdrawn children, they stood up empowered and confronted the world and their traffickers and abusers. It helps them overcome their feelings of weakness, defeat and fear. From depression and withdrawal, they open and emerge empowered victors pursuing justice robustly with determination and vigor.
They are attending court hearings and testifying with courage and determination. It is only when victims are rescued, protected, healed and testify against their traffickers and abusers will the scourge of human trafficking for sexual exploitation end.
Father Shay Cullen