Philippines: "authorities ignore child sex trade"

It is no easy task to rescue the child victims of trafficking for  commercial sexual exploitation in the Philippines. The authorities  deny it even it exists. "The problem has been solved", they say, "it  does not exist now". Journalists and human rights workers are not  welcome in the office of Mayors that host sex industries in their  communities in case they find the evidence of child trafficking that they try so hard to hide. My experience and the evidence gathered on video and sound proves beyond a doubt that children as young as 14 can be purchased by private arrangement. Sex clubs proudly advertise their Mayor's permit and license to operate. The girls are guaranteed to be clean of sexually-transmitted diseases. The club operator, a woman proudly told me that the government-paid health workers come to the clubs to do the tests to be sure the girls do not infect the customers.

There seem to no concern that the youngsters are being exploited and  abused and their young lives are being wasted and destroyed. It's an outrage that the government could stop it with an executive order or a strong city ordinance but lacks the political will or moral courage to close them.  The tolerance of the authorities has sent the wrong  and immoral message to the would-be child abusers that it is not a serious crime and so the sexual abuse of children in the home has risen dramatically. More and more abused children are being brought to shelters for therapy and treatment but there are hardly any  convictions. In one horrific case, a four year old was brought for help suffering from a sexually-transmitted disease but the suspect, the child's father, must have picked up the infection in a sex bar.

The prosecutor has delayed many months and made no decision to prosecute or not despite the strong evidence and the shocking nature of the case and the urgency to bring the abuser to justice. He still walks free to abuse more little children.

This and many other cases have been sent to the Department of Justice and finally there has been a response and prosecutors are starting to file the cases in court, some after two years of inaction. The great difficulty we have is the slowness of the justice system. The abusers are their own fathers, live-in partners or grandfathers, relatives and family friends, all who have easy access to the child.

The increased number of Commercially Sexually Exploited Children being rescued show that the abuse goes on with impunity. The damage done to children by sexual abuse in the home drives them to be run-aways and they are easy to be picked up by vulture primps that abduct them and sell them to the  bars and clubs or hold them in a secret house and  sell them for sex through the  phone. When rescued, they are extremely difficult to help return to a normal childhood.

As many people know, these children have been psychologically damaged in the sex business and in the night club life. They are brain-washed to believe that the club is their new home and their future where they will meet a foreigner and will marry him and she will have a happy life abroad.   It is all an empty fantasy but the children believe it and look out for their "sugar daddy".  This is the difficult task for child workers to build up the children's self esteem.   They have a very low self esteem, and a lot of hostility to the outside world and no trust in adults since their life experience is abuse, rejection and hardship.

There is success despite all the difficulties and it is encouraging to see those that respond to affirmation and emotional release therapy and can start a new and better live. But why should it be allowed to happen at all to thousands of young teenagers. We are all  challenged to express our opinion and speak out and take action whenever we can to bring it to an end.

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