Human trafficking is a global challenge

Fr. Shay Cullen explores human trafficking and asks what can be done to campaign against human trafficking and exploitation to help bring about change.

When the group of eight teenagers was first referred to the Preda Home for Girls, they were still in shock having been taken into police custody during a rescue. What they did not realize was they had been victimized and exploited by unscrupulous human traffickers and used like sex slaves by male child abusers. They had been brainwashed like kindergarten children being wrongly taught that two plus two makes eight. They were easily persuaded and convinced that they were good-for-nothing other than teenage sex-workers earning a pittance. They believed it without question, their parents told them it was a job. They had been colluding with the traffickers and brothel owners.

Some victims of human trafficking are given false promises and money in advance of being abused. They owe debts to the traffickers and are scared to run away. They are captured and enslaved into debt bondage. A cruel form of control and exploitation, a kind of slavery like the days when millions of Africans were trafficked and chained in ships and transported to the Americas and sold like animals in a human auction.

The human traffickers of the slave trade were exalted, admired and had statues erected to them as if justifying their evil trade.  It is high time to undo that cultural criminal mindset which held that people were objects to be owned, things to be used and property of their owners to be bought and sold. It still exists today in the brothel and sex bar industry and online child sexual abuse.

Most of the money paid by the child sex abusers goes to the human traffickers and the brothel owners. The corrupt business people, politicians and police that protect the evil trade in innocent vulnerable humans get a cut and payoff and they stink like a den of dead rats.

The United Nations (UN) has declared 30 July of every year as World Day Against Human Trafficking and this year they are asking all citizens that support human rights to be aware and supportive of the first responders. These are the dedicated people that rescue, protect and heal the victims and give them a life of dignity and respect.

The UN says that women make up 49 percent and girls 23 percent of all victims of trafficking. Sexual exploitation is the most common form of exploitation (59 percent) followed by forced labour (34 percent). Most victims are trafficked within their countries’ borders; those trafficked abroad are moved to the richest countries.

The trafficked people are tricked, cheated, bound in debt, threatened and abused. Hundreds drown in the Mediterranean or are sexually abused or killed. Migrant seasonal workers from Morocco are sold like slaves to the Spanish strawberry farms. Hundreds are cheated, abused and exploited and made to live like animals, Euro News revealed recently.  On French farms, it is similar. The workers have few or no rights. The farm boss is the cruel king of the workers, fear rules their lives. Consumers can change that injustice by boycotting Spanish and French farm produce by telling the supermarket managers that they want local, Fair Trade products; not the food of exploitation.

The eight children are slowly recovering from trauma and discovering that they are good, have rights and dignity and a better future. With therapy and education, they are emerging from a dark fog of ignorance  to the light of understanding. With the support of agencies and individuals who care for the children and victims of trafficking, the Preda Homes provide shelter, protection and therapy, counseling and empowerment. This enables the victims to become survivors and resilient in overcoming the trauma of being exploited so that they are empowered to fight back against their abusers and traffickers and win as many as twenty convictions a year.

The responders and healers are the people that are seeking justice with the victims/survivors  and challenging the dead rat-infested system of corruption and impunity that allows and promotes the human trafficking of vulnerable and needy people.

The social workers, houseparents and therapists in the Preda homes for abused children are good examples of successful healers and protectors. The advocacy team promotes the campaign against human trafficking and exploitation. Prevention is what we need as much as healing and recovery. The Preda team is challenging some corrupt local politicians that allow and enable brothels and sex bars to thrive by issuing licenses and permits. Even in the middle of the pandemic, these dens of iniquity, causing pain and hurt, are allowed to continue operating and using the women and minors to earn huge sums of money.

The telecommunication corporations, like PLDT and Globe in the Philippines and their officials and investors, have to be continuously challenged because they allow and enable human trafficking and child sexual abuse by ignoring the Philippine law (RA 9775). They are like hungry vultures devouring the lives of children.

The Internet can be the curse or the cure of human trafficking. But when the Internet Server Providers (ISPs) allow it to be used freely for child abuse and human trafficking, without obeying the law that requires them to install blocking and filtering software, they are allowing the children to be destroyed, spiritually killed and devoured by their cronies and investors like Komodo dragons of Indonesia feasting on their victims.

When the telecommunication corporations fail to install the sophisticated software powered by effective Artificial Intelligence (AI), then they are the curse of the internet. The evidence against them is seen in the child pornography and on-line sexual abuse of children passing through their servers to and from paedophiles, human traffickers and pornographers. The traumatized suffering child victims are brought to the shelters and homes for healing and recovery like Preda Foundation, some are as young as three years old. But why should it be allowed to happen? Do not the Filipinos love their children and their nation? The owners, investors and board members of the ISPs are either too uncaring, too cynical, and too greedy for profits to save the children and the officials at the National Communications Commission (NTC), to their eternal shame, fail to implement the law.

Human trafficking and worker abuse is everywhere. Let us work together with good law enforcement and the caring public and use social media to campaign and expose the evil and help to bring it to an end by standing up for truth and goodness.

Prayer for an end to trafficking

Human trafficking and worker abuse is everywhere. Let us pray for an end to this terrible crime, and for justice to all victims everywhere.

Prayer for 2020 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons