Trafficking in the Philippines

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has expressed concerns that the global economic slump, which is causing increased joblessness, could see an increase in human trafficking. This is particularly the case in the Philippines.

Traffickers are taking advantage of joblessness.

There is no official government data on trafficking but Visayan Forum, a national NGO, said it had assisted 32,000 people since 2003, when the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act was made law.

Denise, not her real name, was recently rescued from a bar in Pasay City. Her parents were jobless and she was convinced by an unscrupulous job recruiter to leave her home province of Leyte ostensibly to work as a waitress in a restaurant in Metro Manila. She ended up working in the bar, younger than the 18 legal limit, and then was forced into prostitution. “I had to help my family since my parents have no work,” she says. She is now undergoing counselling at a shelter for trafficked women.

The National Economic Development Authority and the Labor Department say 42,000 people have lost their jobs in the Philippines since the financial meltdown began, mostly in export industries.

The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER), a local NGO, says women are especially vulnerable to job loss and exploitation since the sectors heavily affected by the global slump principally employ women.

Source: IRIN, March 14th, 2009

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