Monday, December 21, 2009


ILO warns of rise in human trafficking due to financial crisis

MANILA, Philippines – Many overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) opt to sneak out of the country to work abroad but sadly end up as sex slaves, the International Labor Organization (ILO) warned yesterday.
ILO executive director Linda Wirth said many people worldwide, including Filipinos, may likely accept risky and questionable offers of employment as a result of the prevailing global financial crisis.

Although the ILO has no data to prove the surge in the number of human trafficking victims, Wirth said economic pressure is a major factor that increased illegal activities.
She said illegally deployed workers and human trafficking victims are more prone to exploitation and more likely to suffer sexual abuse than documented workers.

“When they go to their destinations, they find themselves locked up with passport taken away, given no salary, made to work long hours seven days a week. They are in the situation of labor exploitation,” Wirth said.
She said there is nothing more difficult than working in a sex den, forced into prostitution or suffering sexual abuse in the confines of private homes.
“Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to untangle the labor and the sexual exploitation,” she said.
She voiced concern that as the global financial crisis hits more communities “there will be more temptation to take risky offers.”
“We are worried that there could be an increase in human trafficking,” she explained.
The Philippines is not as badly hit by the economic crisis as other countries, but the number of people affected by the financial slump may increase with the crisis expected to continue until 2010.

“Fifty thousand more reportedly lost their jobs in the Philippines, but we have to think of the subsidiary workers, the informal economy, the tricycle drivers, women who make the food for the workers. They are also falling out and yet not counted in the official statistics,” Wirth pointed out.
Many Filipino migrant workers may be forced to stay in other countries to work rather than come home.

Social Welfare and Development Secretary Esperanza Cabral said there is no solid evidence to prove the increase in illegal recruitment and human trafficking because of the economic crisis.
However, she admitted that the DSWD receives reports of human trafficking through the airports, particularly at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga.
She also reported that in Zamboanga, 500 people come by boat from Malaysia every week and many of them enter the country illegally and are victims of trafficking. A majority of the victims are women below 18 years old.


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