Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, with the total annual revenue for trafficking in persons estimated to be between $5 billion and $9 billion. According to the Council of Europe, “People trafficking has reached epidemic proportions over the past decade, with a global annual market of about $42.5 billion.” Trafficking victims typically are recruited using coercion, deception, fraud, the abuse of power, or outright abduction.
The local women’s group Ing Makababaing Aksiyon (IMA), one of the local partners on the campaign dubbed as “War Against Human Trafficking” or WHAT Campaign, said that although trafficking is a global problem, it has a huge impact on the local community and is considered as a serious local problem. IMA has actively been involved in rescuing victims of trafficking since 1996. They helped many women and young girls who have been trafficked, exploited, forced or coerced into prostitution and labor.
IMA has launched the regional phase of the Step-Up Project – the Stop Trafficking and Exploitation of Persons through Unlimited Potential Project. This project is a partnership between Microsoft and the Visayan Forum Foundation Inc., a non-government organization established in 1991.
Visayan Forum Foundation is at the forefront of the War Against Human Trafficking campaign launched in August 2008. The organization works for the protection and justice of trafficked women and children and the domestic workers.
Last Saturday, various organizations and agencies joined efforts in showing their strength, unity and commitment to fight human trafficking by conducting a Freedom March and MTV EXIT Concert at SM City Clark. The events were participated in by the Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF), Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC), Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) Task Force for Migrant Protection and Trafficking in Person and IMA Foundation.
The MTV EXIT campaign is an award-winning multimedia initiative against human trafficking and exploitation. Launched in Europe in 2004 in partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the campaign expanded across Asia with USAID in 2007.
In a press conference prior to the Freedom March and MTV EXIT concert, the organizers said human trafficking will not stop with the concert rather the war needs to be a concerted and sustained effort not just to protect the victims from further harm but also to prevent more victims and ensure that no one will fall prey to traffickers in the future.
According to Susan Pineda, IMA Foundation Executive Director, said human trafficking which usually involves sex trade, thrives because of the patrons of commercial sex.
The low regard for women that is perpetuated by certain sections of society and cultural practices gives the perception that women’s bodies are objects of pleasure – a commodity. According to Pineda, the present patriarchal culture makes women unequal to men and makes them vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.
IMA calls the attention of the local government to help fight human trafficking and make serious steps in combating this global menace by addressing the roots of poverty. Pineda added that the economic crisis, labor export policy and sex tourism have aggravated the vulnerability of women and children to trafficking.
It is good to know that CIAC, DMIA, IMA Foundation, MTV Pilipinas, Visayan Forum and all other agencies are pooling their efforts and resources to campaign against human trafficking, The information dissemination and education campaigns are paying off well and encourage people to join the war.