EDITORIAL — Human trafficking
() - February 11, 2007 - 12:00am
The Philippines should be in a good position to host an international conference on the trafficking of persons, particularly women; human trafficking is a serious problem in the country. The Philippine mission to the United Nations in New York is hosting the conference next month to discuss progress in global efforts to stop human trafficking.

The country can play an even better role by intensifying the campaign against human trafficking in its own backyard. Illegal recruiters continue to lure women and even minors from impoverished communities nationwide to work overseas as maids or entertainers. Many of the women end up as commercial sex workers or find themselves unable to leave employers who abuse them physically and sexually.

Sarah Balabagan, who killed her employer in the Middle East to prevent sexual assault, was an adolescent when she was recruited for the job. The recruiter provided spurious documents for her travel and employment. Balabagan’s ordeal did not end such stories. Filipino women continue to be sold for sex or are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse in many other parts of the world.

Human trafficking is a problem even within the Philippines, where prostitution and pornography rings thrive because of poverty. The Internet has been a boon for the sex industry; websites advertise Filipino women and children for sex. Philippine law enforcers are just starting to receive sufficient training to fight cyber porn. For now purveyors of pornography manage to stay one step ahead of the law.

Women and children are sold for sex right in the streets. A big problem for those battling human trafficking is that many children are forced into prostitution by their parents. The young sex workers are back in the streets soon after they are returned to their parents by social workers. The social problems that breed human trafficking are complex and the campaign against it needs sustained effort. With concerted global action, the campaign stands a better chance of success.

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