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Gov’t relies on ‘holistic,’ survivor-centered approach to address trafficking

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Gov�t relies on �holistic,� survivor-centered approach to address trafficking
Travelers line up at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on December 20, 2022.
STAR / Ernie Penaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — Victims of human trafficking don’t all look the same and experience the same type of violence.

Adopting this approach, according to the Commission of Human Rights (CHR), has allowed the Philippines to address human trafficking that mostly targets women and girls.

During the side event of the 68th annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) on Friday, CHR Commissioner Faydah Dumarpa shared that the Philippines has adopted various strategies to prevent or address the trafficking of women.

Last year, the US State Department retained the Philippines’ Tier 1 status for the government’s continuous efforts to address trafficking, however noted that the government “did not vigorously investigate or prosecute labor trafficking crimes that occurred within the Philippines.”

At least 490 women and 148 girls fell victim to sex trafficking last year, the US State Department report said.

Dumarpa said that one of the strategies involve the adoption of a “holistic approach” where authorities take into consideration victims’ multiple identities and specific contexts.

“It recognizes that multiple identities and specific contexts can render a person more vulnerable to and at risk of trafficking. It also recognizes the need to adopt measures that address and respond to specific vulnerabilities and contexts,” she said.

“It recognizes that survivors are not similarly situated and responses should recognize and respond to these differences,” the CHR commissioner added.

Dumarpa said that the government also pursues community-based strategies where the government actively works with women’s organization to respond to calls for help.

“We recognize the extensive work of women’s human rights organizations and community-based responses in amplifying survivor’s voices and participation; in ensuring multi-disciplinary and effective referral and response mechanisms; and in calling duty bearers into account,” she said.

Dumarpa also stressed the need to champion “survivor-centered approaches,” saying responses to trafficking in women and girls should always be survivor-centered.

The CHR commissioner also noted that the commission has entered into formal agreements to ensure the institutionalization of gender-based violence responses in the Philippines.

“Regionally, we work with fellow NHRIs (national human rights institutions) in responding to cases of gender-based violence, including trafficking, and we work with development partners in enhancing response.”

Some 71% of all trafficking victims in the world are women, while a third are children, according to 2016 report by the United Nations.

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