The greatest pain for families is when the parents fight, argue, create a violent home, scold and beat the children, and then separate. It has happened thousands of times and that is just what happened to the mother and father of 12-year old Meanne.
Her father disappeared, and in despair, the mother sold what they had to buy drugs. When that money ran out, she sold herself along the streets of Angeles City to the sex tourists from many countries. Soon, she was unacceptable and became ragged and worn out.
So, she gave her daughter Meanne to a human trafficker to be sold into the sex industry to earn money to support her drug habit. Angeles City is well known for its human traffickers and sex bars along the road known as Fields Avenue. The bars are licensed and have a mayor’s permit to operate. The sex business is considered an important part of the local economy.
The trade in minors is a form of sex slavery because they are in debt bondage to the sex bar operators. They are quickly made dependent on drugs to keep them in debt and they are unable to quit or escape. The entire corrupt industry should be closed down for exploiting women and children. It is an affront and insult to Philippine dignity. It is also a hive of drug abuse and illegal trafficking.
The war-on-drugs should be carried into the sex industry and investigate the criminal syndicates and sex mafia that operate the business. There is an estimated 4.5 million sex slaves in the business worldwide and it earns as much as $32 billion a year.
In Angeles City, as in most towns and cities in the Philippines, the sexual exploitation of young women and children is rampant. Children are trafficked by relatives that offer the children to the throngs of foreign customers who frequent the area and sex bars. In one television report they offered a 14-year-old child to the journalists. (see “The Raid” on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xRCk8Ni-cs). The minors are trafficked and sold on the side of the road or via a link on the cellphone.
Meanne at 12 years old was brought by the pimp first to a Filipino sex tourist, who raped her. Then she was sold to foreign sex tourists in Angeles City. They continually sexually exploited her. One by one they took her to a hotel. The hotel management is accustomed to allowing children and foreigners go inside their establishments. No one cares; it’s just business.
On one occasion, Meanne revealed that she was brought to the residence of a foreign sex tourist. She was passed around like a plaything and abused many times in different places. Finally, there was a concerned citizen who came to know about it and reported the situation to the anti-trafficking task force. There was a rescue operation and a raid on the house of the human trafficker by the anti-trafficking task force on May 27, 2014 and six minor girls, including Meanne, were rescued.
Despite the extent of the abuse of the children, no proper investigation as to the identities of the rapists of the children was made. No local or foreign sex tourist was arrested. They are seemingly immune from arrest and prosecution as they pay the officials and go free. If ever there is a court case against a foreigner for child rape or trafficking, it is settled for money one way or the other. The International Justice Mission was behind the rescue and two cases were filed in court against the Filipino traffickers.
Meanne was sent to the government home for trafficked girls, but she escaped from there many times. With other minors, she returned to Angeles and they were picked up and placed at a Transit house, but escaped again. Soon she was being sexually exploited again and living on the streets. She thought that was all she was good for and there was no other future for her. She was again found by social workers, and this time, she was referred to the Preda Home for Girls on September 26, 2017. Her grandmother cared for her siblings when her mother was jailed for drug abuse.
Amazingly, she decided to stay at Preda although it is an open center and she could easily escape. She was welcomed and reassured that she was a good girl and had no blame for what happened to her. She was told she could start a new life with education and help for her problems. Then the slow but steady transformation began. She felt accepted, understood supported and never was scolded or punished or heard harsh words. It is all forbidden at Preda. She was reminded of her human dignity and rights. She understood her rights were grievously violated by the mother and the human traffickers, pimps and the abusers. She realized she was valued and could restore her dignity and her rebellious attitude melted away.
She is now a shy, quiet, peaceful child who is happy to help in the kitchen and looks after the small children like they are her sisters. In the Emotional Expression Therapy room, Meanne pours out her aggression and anger at her abusers, the neglect and lack of love from her parents, and she cries out and shouts and punches the cushions to release her frustrations and anger.
Then after almost an hour she calms down and tells the therapist her feelings and all that had happened to her. She is studying again and has become an empowered young girl with self-confidence and growing personality. After such a terrible experience of abuse and exploitation, Meanne is now a happy and successful child.
Meanwhile, the sex business outside continues and many more children are sold into slavery. They, too, have to be rescued until the industry is closed down and the children can find freedom, peace and a better, happier life.