Human trafficking – not only in the Philippines
Fr. Shay Cullen
Stuttgart, Germany – Human trafficking and sex tourism is on the rise in Europe especially in prosperous Germany as well as the Philippines and South East Asia. It is on the rise in the UK and Ireland also.
It is slavery under another guise, hiding behind the liberal laws of Germany and the Netherlands that legalized prostitution in 1992 to decriminalize the business and protect women. However, it opened the door to human traffickers.
Sex-starved and psychologically disturbed men from failed marriages or none at all, come from Germany and other European countries for sex in the biggest brothels in Europe, one of which is here in Stuttgart, named Paradise. I have not gone there but an article in “Der Spiegel” describes it well. It seems like a hell hole of woman abuse and depravity.
It is far from being a “paradise” for the hundreds of young girls trafficked and forced into prostitution which the law cannot monitor or protect. Social workers speaking on a panel discussion where I was invited as a panelist said the young girls are exploited and abused and have no protection from the law.
Instead of protecting women and giving them protection and rights, the 2002 German and Dutch law legalizing prostitution has become a cloak for a massive girl slavery business involving hundreds of thousands of poor girls from the Eastern European countries such as Belarus, Ukraine and other still impoverished members of the European Union – Romania, Bulgaria and now the newly admitted Croatia.
The open borders of these countries make human trafficking by criminal syndicates for forced labor in factories and farms and worst of all in the glittering mega-brothels of Germany and France all too easy. This has greatly reduced human trafficking from South East Asia and especially from the Philippines into Europe. But others are now victims. The German law is now being re-examined as a failure and a benefit to the criminal syndicates and human traffickers.
Women’s rights groups in Europe are hotly debating the failures of that law which is used by human traffickers as a cover for forced prostitution where the girls are in debt and under threats from their recruiters and pimps and forced to say they are willing employees. Many are minors disguised as adults like in the Philippines, where they at times, have fake papers or use an older sister’s identity.
In the debate, I recommended that the Swedish law, that penalizes the male customers and considers the women as exploited victims be adopted. I also said that the underlying causes of the male problem, the failed relationships and the inability of European male sex tourists to have loving, satisfying married relationships has to be considered as part of the problem.
Many tourists are now being seen by sociologists as psychologically disturbed people and are unable to have stable loving relationships with a woman as friend, mother of his children, and life companion. But the resources should be used to help victims of human trafficking all the more.
In Europe and in South East Asia, the victims are mostly young girls unknowingly sent by their parents with recruiters and traffickers to work in the hotels and restaurants in the cities but are forced into brothels against their will.
Preda Foundation social workers rescued 13 young girls from sex bars in Subic last February and they had all been trafficked in this way. They are easily beguiled by promises of well paying jobs and frequent home visits but instead they are captured, controlled and bound by debts and brutality in the sex trade.
In Europe, the collapse of the Soviet Union led to this opening of borders and an increase in poverty as corrupt capitalism replaced corrupt communism. Criminal gangs, corrupt police and politicians have been implicated in the trade in children and young girls for sexual exploitation.
During the war in the Balkans, the sex trade in persons grew to huge proportions because of the concentrations of troops and the massive displacement of people from war-torn regions.
The Philippine government is presently inviting back the US Navy and US Air force to have greater access to Philippine military bases, a creeping mission of reoccupation of the former military bases to counter the claims of China to the islands in the Philippine Western Sea. This is unnecessary, a violation of the Constitution, a provocation and the expansion of the sex tourist industry which has brought misery and human suffering is an ugly stain on the Filipino people.
Why the Philippine government allows it can only be for gain and because leaders lack moral courage and virtue. It is a threat to children everywhere and we have to stand against it and uphold the dignity of women and children. Email firstname.lastname@example.org; send letters to: Fr. Shay Cullen, P.O. Box 68, Olongapo City 2200, Philippines
(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Universe, The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)
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