By: Fr. Shay Cullen
hen the social workers, police, and the mother of two missing children, 13 and 14 year-olds, all from Limay, Bataan arrived in Alaminos, N. Pangasinan last December 2008, they expected the local police to have a squad ready to raid the “Trappers” sex bar and rescue the missing minors who had been trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Instead, the club was closed and the children were gone. After hours of persuasion, the Alaminos police miraculously found the children at a “bus stop” and they were then given to the Preda home for trafficked girls.
The traffickers, pimps and club operators seemingly have impunity from the law. Even the good Mayor, a former congressman apparently is unable to control the sex Mafia. Most sex bars, operate with a mayor's license. The people of Alaminos ought to come to the support of the mayor in his campaign to cancel the licenses and free the women and children.
In Malaysia Philippine Embassy personnel rescued several 13 and 14 years old children, trafficked into commercial sex clubs there. With the help of Visayan Forum, a children's rights organization, they were brought back to the Philippines. One, Maryanne, was referred to the Preda Children's Home where she recovered and gave birth to twins. They are the love of her life now despite how she became pregnant. The other girls dote on them and never want to return to prostitution but want to marry in the future and have a family. Had Maryanne not been rescued, she would have been dragged screaming to an abortion clinic and the babies forcibly aborted.
The sexual exploitation of children in Philippine tourism is found on both the national and international fronts. Thousands of European, North American and Australian sex tourists make the Philippines a destination and create a demand for commercially-sexually exploited children (CSEC). Internal trafficking is the most common form of child sexual exploitation in Philippine tourism. Thousands of Filipino sex tourists abuse some of the estimated 80,000 children under the age of 18. They are made available in sex bars or through pimps. Even 11 year- olds can be bought by arrangement.
Most bars, clubs, beer houses and karaoke bars are fronts for prostitution. Alongside, adult prostitutes, minors are also employed. However, their documents are fake and rarely verified by officials. It is a growing business with an estimated 1.2 million single male tourist arrivals every year in the Philippines. How many of those arrivals seek out minors for sex is not known since it is secret underground-business worth millions of dollars.
The profits from tourism, sexual or otherwise, seems to be of greater importance to the officials and businesses than is the protection of children and the dignity of Filipinos. With the economic recession, more and more children will be dropping out of school and will enter the work force as impoverished families try to survive.
Besides the lifelong physical and mental damage to the minors, there is the ever present danger of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV-AIDS. In tandem with the sex industry, drug trafficking and distribution is the other side of the sex tourist coin and the exploited children are vulnerable to addiction at an early age.
Worst of all is the illegal and dangerous abortions that are arranged with back-street abortion clinics. This is the most heinous of crimes as they are usually late-term abortions from the teenage victims who conceal the pregnancy from the sex bar operators as long as they can for fear of punishment and forced abortion. They are dragged to the clinics and forced to undergo an abortion. These abortion clinics are well known to the pimps and club operators and even police.
You can contact Fr. Shay Cullen at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.preda.org.
The lack of moral outrage by the church, local government and citizens against the sex industry and its abortion clinics is shocking in itself. When was the last national rally or church-sponsored campaign against it? There are sex bars in every town and parish. When will the clergy speak out against the exploitation? This silence, “see nothing, do nothing”, is tantamount to hypocritical consent.