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Teens forced into sex-for-rice scheme – UNFPA

Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - May 12, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Girls as young as 13 are being coerced into having sex in exchange for bags of rice since the pandemic started, a representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said during a Senate hearing yesterday.

“One of our partners gave powerful testimonies, reported to us that there are 13-year-olds who are being coerced into having sex for bags of rice during this pandemic,” said Aimee Santos, who heads the UNFPA’s Gender in the Philippines, during a public hearing of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality chaired by Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

The hearing is on Senate Bill 2088, the Gender Responsive and Inclusive Pandemic Management Act.

Santos said authorities “have to assume that there are people acting with impunity and exploiting vulnerable people and coercing them to have sex in exchange for the vaccine.”

Hontiveros also urged the government to strengthen support for female migrant workers affected by COVID-19.

“Women migrant workers face a whole new set of challenges due to the onslaught of the pandemic. They may return to the Philippines prematurely, (having) suddenly lost their income and livelihood. Maybe they are still in another country, but can’t be supported by their employers. We need to extend every hand we can to our women,” she said.

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