Human Trafficking in the Philippines

What if you were given the most appealing chance to escape poverty and took it, just to find out your efforts landed you into the hands of human traffickers? Human trafficking is a large issue dealt with by countries all over the world, including the Philippines, a tier 1 country that is actively changing their methods of the battle against it. For example, one instance of this took place in 2003 where the country passed the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, a law declaring human trafficking, child prostitution, sex tourism, and sex slavery illegal. The law also help set-up the foundation of what human trafficking prosecution in the Philippines was to become.

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Human trafficking first started during the 15th century in Africa at the start of the European slave trade when the Portuguese were transporting people from Africa to Portugal and using them as slaves. After the British joined in 1562, the slave trade developed and by the 1600s other countries, such as North America, France, Holland, Spain, and Denmark were a part of it as well. Nowadays, human trafficking is larger, consisting of an estimated 40.3 million victims and more prevalent in North Korea, Russia, Iran, and China. In contrast, but also similarly to the slave trade in Europe, a majority of human trafficking victims are either Black/African American, White/Caucasian, or Hispanic. However, a vast majority are Black/African American. Victims are many times found to be females rather than males and children or teenagers instead of adults most likely due to young gullibility.

As a result of this young gullibility, victims are unaware of falling for a human trafficking scheme until they’re too far in it or unable to escape. Factors like these keep traffickers smart and ahead of the game, giving them more time to cover their tracks and pull the victim away from those who could rescue them. Due to those well-hidden methods of trapping and trafficking their victims undercover, legal consequences for human traffickers are small and rare. These minimal attacks make the illegal industry more profitable and powerful, causing it to be listed just below the drug trade with an interpreted profit of $150 billion annually. We see these variables come into play with the current preventions of human trafficking in the Philippines, such as when the IACAT (Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking) task forces of the country came together in 2016 and conducted 269 trainings, including 20 online seminars, reaching more than 6,800 government officials, as well as 14,000 civil society representatives . It is through the partnership of non-profit organizations, NGOs, and the Filipino government that the country is constantly working on future prevention and mean-time conquering of human trafficking through lessons/seminars, advertisements, and increasingly stricter rules.

Some of these volunteer or government confirmed organizations include: The National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Human Trafficking Division, the Philippine National Police Women, and the Children’s Protection Center. In addition to the 2003 anti-trafficking law mentioned in the first paragraph, the act also declares any acts of sex or labor trafficking committed to result in penalties of six or more years of life imprisonment, as well as high debts of up to 5 million pesos ($100,820 in the United States) . Another example of recent work the Philippines has done towards human trafficking took place in 2015 when the government pursued 569 alleged traffickers and secured convictions of 42 in cases of 131 victims, 78 of whom were only kids . In summary, the Philippines has heavily contributed to the future prohibition of human trafficking through a variety of methods, each updated strategy working towards finding the best way to defeat it overall. Though the best solution to defeating human trafficking will never be definite and perfect, spreading awareness through classes, advertisements, and social media as well as creating harsher punishments for human traffickers, are the best way to conquer its spread. Ultimately, we cannot focus on defeating human trafficking and closing in on it without first stopping and addressing its future movement. The Philippines believes the solution must be to first deconstruct human trafficking from its roots and fight it from the outward to the inward depths.

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