Human trafficking: The way out

AT 3:00 A.M. - Fr. James Reuter, SJ -
The Third World Movement Against the Exploitation of Women – abbreviated as TW-MAE-W is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Its silver jubilee. Over those 25 years they have changed the lives of more than 100,000 children, girls, and women who were trapped into prostitution, or raped, or sexually abused by relatives in their own homes.

Any one of those 100,000 stories is an agonizing tale of pain, shame, humiliation, degradation, and finally an ascent back into the sunlight, and into the grace of God.

For instance: a young woman, now safe in one of the homes of the Third World Movement, was brought from Mindanao to a brothel in a big city, at the age of 15. She was really imprisoned in that house. At first the customer paid P1,000. P900 went to the pimp. P50 went to the Mama-san. She was given P50. Sometimes there were 15 men in one night. Once she was gang-raped by 10 policemen. Then she was bought by a German and used as a baby-maker. He was married to a wife who had cancer of the cervix, and could not have children. She conceived, but fell in love with her baby in her womb, and ran away.

She gave birth alone. Then, to support her baby, she went back into prostitution. After six months she discovered that both she and her little girl had syphilis. The baby was covered with sores. The doctors called it: inborn congenital syphilis. She had contracted it from the German.

At one point the room in which she was living was burned out by a fire. She was sleeping on the sidewalk. A man came looking for another prostitute, whom he knew by name. This girl had a little son. The son said to the man: "My mama is having sex with a customer." This seemed so terrible to the girl, whose story I am telling, that she resolved to get out of that business. She did not want her own child ever to say that about her.

She found a drop-in center of the Third World Movement, and they welcomed her, warmly, together with her child. Now both she and the little girl have recovered from the syphilis, and she is working with TW-MAE-W, trying to help other girls to rebuild their lives.

The Movement began in September of 1980, when the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences and the Christian Conference of Asia met in the Ateneo, for two weeks, to study the economic, cultural and political aspects of tourism. During the 1970s the developing countries of the third world were required by the International Monetary Fund, and by the World Bank, to raise hard currency in order to pay their national debts. At that time the main way of raising money was through tourism.

Two Japanese journalists – both women – took the delegates to one of our big five star hotels, in the heart of Manila, to show them what a sex tour really was. Both of these women were distressed at the behavior of their own men, and wanted the sex tours to stop. One of the delegates was Sister Mary Soledad Perpiñan, of the Religious of the Good Shepherd.

200 Japanese men arrived at the airport in a chartered plane, and were brought to the hotel in coaches. Then they were taken in coasters to various brothels in Manila, where they watched our Filipina girls through one way glass. The girls had large numbers on their backs. Each visitor chose the girl he wanted.

That evening, at six, the girls were delivered to the hotel and brought in through the back door. They were led to their assigned rooms, where they stayed for the night. The hotel workers felt very sorry for them, because they were not given supper or breakfast. And often sheets on the beds where they stayed were stained with blood. This went on for three nights.

On September 10, Human Rights Day, Sister Soledad wrote a letter to the Japanese Ambassador in the Philippines. He was busy, preparing for the visit of the Japanese Prime Minister. So she organized demonstrations, both in Bangkok and in Manila, the places the Prime Minister would visit. The Bangkok demonstration featured large placards, saying: "Stop Japanese Yen for Thai Bodies."

The demonstrations were effective. The Japanese Tourist Trade in the Philippines declined by 25 percent in the next three months. Sister Soledad was called to the Vatican, to supply information on human trafficking. She was asked to lecture at the Gregorian University. Then, when she was campaigning against military prostitution in Subic Bay and in Clark Air Base, she was invited by the American Ambassador to the Holy See to speak at an International Conference on: "21st Century Slavery – The Human Rights Dimension to Trafficking in Human Beings"

TW-MAE-W is an international institution, strong in all six continents. But right here, right now, on its 25th anniversary, it is going into high gear in the Philippines. In their shelters, and in their drop-in centers, they not only give the girls a place to stay, but they start the long, slow process of healing body and soul. They teach them the skills that will open the way into the mainstream of this complex, troubled world. They introduce them to typing, to the science of computers, how to cook and to bake in ways that will appeal, how to design and sew dresses that women will want to buy.

These are the open doors:

TW-MAE-W Head Office,

41 Rajah Matanda Street, Project 4, 1109 Quezon City

(632) 4214952

(632) 9139255

[email protected] hotmail.com; [email protected]; [email protected]; www.tw-mae-w.org

Bethany Transition Home, Marikina,

13 Pres. Osmeña St., Industrial Valley Complex, Marikina City

(632) 6471661

Bethany Transition Home,

Barangay Sampaguita, Bolbok, Lipa City

(043) 40405057

Nazareth Growth Home, GenSan,

Purok 12, NASSA Village, Barangay Fatima, General Santos City

(083) 3013477

Belen sa Quezon City,

30 Harvard St., Cubao, Quezon City

(632) 9113536

Belen sa Pasay,

2442 Torres Building, Park Ave., Pasay City

(632) 8333024

Belen sa Batangas,

250 M.H. del Pilar St., cor. Lacsamana Rd., Cuta, Batangas City

(043) 7237033

Balen Sa Angeles,

Andrew St., Balibago, Angeles City

(045) 3225438

Belen sa Subic,

22 Rizal Street, Asinan Poblacion, Subic, Zambales.

(047) 2324889

Belen sa Cebu,

G.V. Building, P. del Rosario St., Cebu City

(032) 4168407

Belen sa GenSan,

22 Sampaguita St., General Santos City

(083) 3022147

If you want to reach the Third World Movement Against the Exploitation of Women by texting:

• On Smart, text: "[email protected]"

• On Globe, text: "[email protected]"

"Rescue" does not mean that a fleet of police cars, or military, will surround a night club or a bar and save some girl with sub-machine guns. It only means that a child, or a young girl, or a woman, wants to know the way out of her misery. The whole point of this article is simple: human trafficking is a curse that has fallen on the Philippines because of our abject poverty. And, for the poor girls who are suffering from it, there is a way out.

There is a way out!











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