When Imelda was about 15-years-old she got married to the man she loved. They had two
children and she was perfectly happy. A couple of years later he unexpectedly
left her for another women and she was left heart broken and with two small
children to take care of by herself. Devastated, she suddenly needed to provide
for herself and her children. She moved back to her parents home searching for
a work in the Philippines; a job market where it is currently hard for
university graduates to receive a work. Imelda had not even finished secondary
school. Therefore she jumped to the opportunity to work as a waitress at a more
remote area in one of the islands in the eastern Visayans. She let her children
stay at her parent’s house while she moved there in order to earn enough money
so that she could provide for herself and them.
she was, like all the other girls at the bar when they started, just serving
drinks to the customers. Gradually, her supervisor started demanding more
services from her towards the customers than just serving. Later on, she had
become one of the many victims world wide of sex trafficking, as it was the
actual business the bar she was told to be working for as a waitress was
just one of the several girls who, with different backgrounds, that was allured
by the belief that they would be working as waitresses to suddenly find
themselves deep into the sex trafficking business. Some people might right now
while reading this question themselves why the girls did not leave the work
when they realized what it actually was. Sadly there are many issues that are
prohibiting the girls from doing that. As they get gradually involved, their
perspective of the possibility to exit simultaneously becomes more obscure. Remember
that often this is, as stated in the story above, girls we are talking about.
Under aged girls who have no education or even an idea about neither their
legal nor human rights and due to that they believe or cannot argue against
what they are told by their supervisors.
for them, there is no way out. Many of them are so ashamed of what they have
done since they see it as their own fault due to the stigma in the society.
When the bar Imelda worked for was shut down and the girls and women that worked
there got rescued to a women’s shelter, it turned out that Imelda’s family back
home had no idea of the kind of work she had been lured in to. In other words,
Imelda was to embarrassed to even tell her own family about what the work as a
waitress had turned out to be. That is how strong the stigma currently is in
the Philippines and in many other different countries, which tells us from the Western
world a lot about how little we now about the current individuals that are in
the business of sex trafficking and cannot get out of it not only from physical
barriers – also the psychological barrier due to the society.
the story that Imelda (not her real name)
shared with me, as she was one of the many girls that after a rescue operation was living at the women’s shelter I worked at during my time in the
Philippines. After talking to the other girl’s that had gotten rescued, as well
as the head of the centre about her experiences I wanted to learn more about
the regional situation regarding the sex trafficking business. Therefore I conducted an
interview at the local Department of Social Welfare with the focal person for Region
8 in the Philippines, which is the eastern Visayans.
explains how this region, consisting of among others the island Leyte and Samar,
are the primary sources for trafficked individuals in the Philippines. The
major reasons for this, according to her, are that the region consists of a
lot of remote areas and islands. The people living there are especially
vulnerable to recruiters due to poverty, lack of education (mostly just
elementary) and are searching for work. Approximately the majority of the girls
and women they rescue main reason for why they trusted the recruiter was
because they believed in a better future. It was and it currently is that common
dream the recruiters take advantage of. Moreover, the recruiter usually they
have some kind of connection to the girls and women as for example mutual friends, that they are from the same place/island or that they even are family.
This facilitates the recruiters work to gain the girl’s and women’s trust as
they simultaneously take advantage of the girls and women’s dreams about a
common age is 15 to 17-year-old girls and adults, as she referred them to as,
between 20 and 24-years-old.
that as soon as the girls and women have been rescued, the goal is achieved and
they survivors will be ecstatic and ready to continue their lives the way that
they had dreamt of. That is not the truth. Once they are rescued, the girls and
women are not strutting around on rose pedals. Once they have been rescued,
they are faced with the stigma of their society, community and often even
family. They have traumas and memories that will be a part of them for life.
Furthermore, in Region 8 at least about 30% returns back to the sex trafficking
business, according to the focal person I was interviewing, uncompelled. For
them the dynamics of the business have changed, they no longer see themselves
as victims thus instead blame their rescuer for taking away their livelihood.
Others will return as a result of a drug addiction that has become to
compelling for them to resist. This has been developed as they has been forced
by their supervisors to take drugs so that they would work without arguing.
countries and societies not only need to focus on rescuing individuals from the
business, they also need to try to prevent them from going back to it through
various ways. That is why support and guidance is a very significant part in
order to actually help the girls and women back into society, or in plain
English to help them regain their lives, their dreams and their ambitions. It
is not easy, but of such big of a significance, to help them individually
achieve a positive vision and prospect of their future. That will determine
whether they actually have been rescued from the sex trafficking business or
not, since it is not only the physical rescue operation that can establish
to be achieved in order to stop this business right now is in my opinion two
major things. Firstly to track down the networks of the business to stop the on
going recruitments and close the bars/brothels and so on that are conducting
the business. However this is not something that can be achieved over night.
easy to forget is however in order to conduct this kind of business, or rather
any kind of industry, there has to be one thing. A demand. Without the commercial
demand for sex, there would not be anything for the recruiters to recruit for
or the businesses and industries to profit from.
What we all
can do, and need to, is to spread awareness and educate regarding the subject
to prevent people from getting lured in to trafficking in the first place – as well
as spot people who are already involved in order to help them.
We have to
remember, that it is modern-day slavery we are talking about.
More about prevention, and to learn more about
not only sex trafficking but human trafficking stay tuned to the website since
I will write more regarding the subject.