Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Human trafficking in Angeles City

Human trafficking in Angeles City, Philippines is a significant problem, with several thousand young girls working as prostitutes, some as young as six years old. This prostititution is often forced by various means and so is regarded as sex slavery. In Angeles, it is estimated that as many as 75% of trafficked slaves are children. UNICEF quotes the Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development that “anywhere from 60,000 to 600,000 streetchildren are victims of child prostitution” in the Philippines as a whole while Angeles City is regarded as one of the country’s top five spots for child prostitution. Angeles has become one of the favored destinations of paedophile sex tourists from Europe, the United States and Australia.

The sex slavery trade started during the time of the U.S. military base called Clark Air Base. Around the base organized crime built up a massive sex slavery trade catering to staff on the base. But when the Mount Pinatubo volcano erupted in 1991, it destroyed most of the base and the US closed it down in 1992. Most of the sex slavery trade closed with it, but when Manila Mayor, Alfredo Lim closed down the sex slavery area of Ermita in Manila, the gangs shifted the trade to Angeles. Since then the sex slavery trade has continued to grow. The Salvation Army estimates there are as many as 150,000 girls working in prositution in Angeles, although there are few other sources to support this number.

Forced prostitution is regarded as slavery. Children and teenagers are lured into the industry from poor areas by promises of money and care, and are kept there by threats, debt bondage and the fear of poverty.
The current trade is described as being dominated by Australian bar operators and sustained by tourists seeking cheap sex, often with children. Girls are sold with the usual deal being offered by scores of bars to hundreds of mostly foreign men every night in Angeles being a “bar fine” of 1000 pesos ($A27.60) for sex.

The Australian Law Reform Commission undertook an investigation into sex slavery and Human Trafficking in Angeles and stated: “When the Manila local government attempted to close down the sex industry in central Manila, many of the businesses moved to Angeles”, “Filipino population would regularly use the services of prostituted women and children.” This is in addition to the masses of male tourists that flock to this growing international sex-capital, “Girls are quickly forced into prostitution”.

The United States, “State Department watch list of Asia Pacific countries”, has placed the Philipinnes on the “Tier 2 Watch List”. The report stated that the Philippine government did “not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.”

In 1998 the UK government announced a clampdown on child sex tourism where paedophiles from rich western countries travel to poorer countries such as the Philippines for the purpose of exploiting children.

Along with the sex slavery trade comes all forms of government corruption. A Senate investigation led by Jamby Madrigal, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations found: “Police investigators have been found to let off foreign men accused of having sex with minors in exchange for sums of several thousand euro.”

An investigation by the Government of Australia and Australian Law Reform Commission found, “Corruption in the police force and among politicians is reported to be prevalent”.

Over the past few years there has been a rise in cyberporn sex rings in Angeles. Philippines lawmaker Joseph Santiago states that Angeles City alone, has been classified a cybersex and sex-tourism hotspot by the Philippines National Police. Police have already smashed a number of paedophile cyberporn rings in Angeles. Further police raids on cybersex dens in Angeles City have shown that they are run by foreigners and that the customers are expatriates from the West as well as affluent men from Japan and South Korea. Police have revealed that that children are being sold by their parents in this “new market”.

The sex slavery and human trafficking trade in Angeles has resulted in numerous public protests around the world. Several million people gathered in Rizal Park, Manila to protest against the sex slavery trade in Angeles.

A number of arrests against those involved in the trade has taken place as a result of international media attention.

Child welfare Organization, “Preda”, has led the fight against the child sex slavery trade in Angeles. Working undercover, volunteers with hidden cameras have uncovered child brothels in Angeles.
The United States of America and NATO commanders are trying to implement a zero tolerance forbidding troops to frequent sex bars in places such as Angeles City.

In Angeles City a women’s organisation has sponsored street food stalls, outside the foreigner bars and clubs, which are run by women who have left the sex industry. The stalls now form a venue for past and current workers and their friends and associates to gather and organise over issues such as the rape of bar staff by expatriate owners.

The sex slavery trade in Angeles has also led to an online petition calling for a United Nations Peace Keeping force to be placed in Angeles.

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