Advocacy group bats for child protection

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Advocates of an international organization in the Philippines on Sunday expressed hope that the next government would engage in more decisive actions to stump out child sex trafficking in the country.

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Evelyn Pingul, communications and advocacy director of the International Justice Mission – Philippines (IJM-Philippines), said there is still a long way to go in addressing the problem of child sex workers, considered by the International Labor Organization (ILO) as one of the worst kinds of labor.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Associated Labor Unions (ALU), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), and the Partido Manggagawa (PM) strongly asserted

that the next administration must act on the problem before it becomes “uncontrollable.”

Child sex workers are part of the child labor problem in the Philippines which the Philippine Statistics Agency pegs at 5.5 million, mostly children working in agriculture and mining.

But there are no exact figures for minors forced to work as sex workers owing to the difficulty in tracking them down.

“Accurate assessment of child sex trafficking in the Philippines is difficult because children exploited for sex are a “hidden” population due to the clandestine nature of the crime,” IJM pointed out in its previous study.

Evidence of how rampant child sex trafficking is in at least five cities in Metro Manila was disclosed in a study conducted by IJM last year.

Pingul said child sex workers were found to have been working in the streets, KTV/videoke bars, dance clubs, bars, and massage parlors in Makati, Manila, Pasay City and Quezon City. Parañaque had the highest prevalence of child sex trafficking.

IJM likewise noted that the customers are not only Filipinos, but foreigners as well.

Raids conducted by elements of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Stardust KTV and Ivory Cub in Makati last year and the recent one on Lanai KTV Bar in Quezon City validated IJM’s findings.

Pingul said the IJM is hoping that the next government will be more decisive in solving the child sex trafficking problem or any form of human trafficking in the country.

NELSON BADILLA

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