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Philippines

A den of rats: Let us all tackle the evil of human trafficking

On World Day against Trafficking in Persons, the UN wants everyone to support those who rescue victims

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A den of rats: Let us all tackle the evil of human trafficking

Suspects linked to the death of an Indonesian sailor aboard a Chinese fishing vessel face a wall during a police press conference in Batam, Indonesia, on July 25. Trafficking of people for forced labor or sexual exploitation remains a huge problem. (Photo: AFP)

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When the group of eight teenagers were first referred to the Preda Home for Girls in the Philippines, they were still in shock after being taken into police custody during a rescue. What they did not realize was that they had been victimized and exploited by unscrupulous human traffickers and used like sex slaves by male child abusers.

They had been brainwashed like kindergarten children. They were easily persuaded and convinced they were good for nothing other than earning a pittance as sex workers. They believed it without question. Their parents told them it was a job. They had been colluding with the traffickers and brothel owners.

Some victims of human trafficking are given false promises and money in advance of being abused. They owe debts to the traffickers and are scared to run away. They are captured and enslaved into debt bondage. It is a cruel form of control and exploitation, a kind of slavery like the days when millions of Africans were chained in ships and transported to the Americas and sold like animals in a human auction.

The human traffickers of the slave trade were exalted, admired and had statues erected to them as if justifying their evil trade. It is high time to undo that cultural criminal mindset which held that people were objects to be owned, things to be used and property of their owners to be bought and sold. It still exists today in the brothel and sex bar industry and online child sexual abuse.

Most of the money paid by child sex abusers goes to the human traffickers and brothel owners. The corrupt business people, politicians and police that protect the evil trade in innocent, vulnerable humans get a cut. They stink like a den of dead rats.

The United Nations has declared July 30 of every year as World Day against Trafficking in Persons, and this year they are asking all citizens that support human rights to be aware and supportive of the first responders. These are the dedicated people who rescue, protect and heal victims and give them a life of dignity and respect.

The UN says that women make up 49 percent and girls 23 percent of all victims of trafficking. Sexual exploitation is the most common form of exploitation (59 percent) followed by forced labor (34 percent). Most victims are trafficked within their countries’ borders; those trafficked abroad are moved to the richest countries.

The trafficked people are tricked, cheated, bound in debt, threatened and abused. Hundreds drown in the Mediterranean or are sexually abused or killed. Migrant seasonal workers from Morocco are sold like slaves to Spanish strawberry farms. Hundreds are cheated, abused and exploited and made to live like animals, Euro News revealed recently.

On French farms, it is similar. The workers have few or no rights. The farm boss is the cruel king of the workers, and fear rules their lives. Consumers can change that injustice by boycotting Spanish and French farm produce by telling the supermarket managers that they want local Fair Trade products, not the food of exploitation.

The eight children at the Preda Home for Girls are slowly recovering from trauma and discovering that they are good, have rights and dignity and a better future. With therapy and education, they are emerging from a dark fog of ignorance to the light of understanding.

With the support of agencies and individuals who care for the children and victims of trafficking, the Preda homes provide shelter, protection, therapy, counseling and empowerment. This enables the victims to become survivors and resilient in overcoming the trauma of being exploited so that they are empowered to fight back against their abusers and traffickers and win as many as 20 convictions a year.

The responders and healers are the people seeking justice with the victims and survivors and challenging the dead rat-infested system of corruption and impunity that allows and promotes the human trafficking of vulnerable and needy people.

The social workers, house parents and therapists in the Preda homes for abused children are good examples of successful healers and protectors. The advocacy team promotes the campaign against human trafficking and exploitation. Prevention is what we need as much as healing and recovery.

The Preda team is challenging some corrupt politicians that allow and enable brothels and sex bars to thrive by issuing licenses and permits. Even in the middle of the pandemic, these dens of iniquity, causing pain and hurt, are allowed to continue operating and using women and minors to earn huge sums of money.

The internet can be the curse or the cure of human trafficking. But when the internet service providers (ISPs) allow it to be used freely for child abuse and human trafficking, without obeying the law that requires them to install blocking and filtering software, they are allowing children to be destroyed, spiritually killed and devoured by their cronies and investors like the Komodo dragons of Indonesia feasting on their victims.

When the telecommunication corporations fail to install the sophisticated software powered by effective artificial intelligence, then they are the curse of the internet. The evidence against them is seen in the child pornography and online sexual abuse of children passing through their servers to and from pedophiles, human traffickers and pornographers.

Human trafficking and worker abuse are everywhere. Let us work together with good law enforcement and the caring public and use social media to campaign and expose the evil and help to bring it to an end by standing up for truth and goodness.

Irish missionary Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in the Philippines in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

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