Recently I have been writing about all of things I have been doing and experiencing, but I want to take a moment to write about the population of girls I work with at the shelter. I want to write a little on human trafficking here in the Philippines and in Cebu specifically. The Philippines is such an amazing country, but like any country they also have their struggles, such as prostitution and trafficking.
You may be asking why women enter the sex trade to begin with – there are many answers to this such as poverty, unemployment, peer influence, gender issues, and lack of education. Women enter or are forced into this profession for various reason and are often forced to stay by imprisonment, threats, coercion, addictions, debts, etc.
There are three main hubs for trafficking and prostitution in the Philippines due to domestic and international trade and tourism through highways, airports, and seaports in conjunction with the proximity of rural and urban areas. I am located in the central hub below.
Victims in the Philippines (which is similar in many other countries) are predominantly girls between the ages of 14 and 41. They usually come from poor, rural areas and from large families. These young girls and women often times have low levels of education which in turn effects employment and their ability to help sustain their families. Sexual abuse, domestic violence, and broken families are also found as precursors for many victims. There are approximately 800,000 women in the Philippines who work as prostitutes.
Now to focus a little on trafficking and prostitution on the island where I live. Cebu is the largest city in the Philippines outside of Manila and operates an international airport and seaport. It has an ever growing tourist industry, which also means a growing sex industry.
According to BBC, 10,000 young girls have been trafficked in Cebu City, and of this number about half are children. The Philippines ranks fourth on the list of countries having a large number of prostituted children. (GSWH)
To help fight this issue, My Refuge House (where I am working for the next two years) provides a safe place for survivors of the commercial sex industry ages 11-19. They do an amazing job of providing wholistic care through counseling, education, medical, livelihood, and spiritual programs. We currently have 12 girls at our shelter and will be able to provide care for 18 girls by the end of this year. My Refuge House is an incredible organization combating trafficking in Cebu and providing individualized care to those who have been caught in its trap. If you would like to check out their website please go to http://www.myrefugehouse.org to find out more information.
Another organization on the front lines of the battle is Good Shepherd Welcome House, which I had the opportunity to shadow back in December. The information from this post comes from what they were able to share with us during our tour. They are doing an amazing job working with women on the streets, offering and providing an alternative to their way of life. To see the difference they are making in their community please check out www.gswh-cebu.org.
To find out more information on human trafficking in general you can follow these links:
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Human Trafficking:
International Justice Mission:
10 Ways Ordinary Families Can Fight Child Trafficking