Children Of The Sex Trade

October 4, 2014

by Father Shay Cullen

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA: President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd is being petitioned by hundreds of fair traders across Austria this past week who are signing a letter asking him to stop sex tourism in the Philippines. Meeting in the historic city of Salzburg, the business leaders appealed to him to turn his anti-corruption drive to ending the evil trade of sex slavery of children and young girls, some as young as 13 and 14 years old.

The continuing reports of the human trafficking of thousands of Filipino children and young girls into a modern form of slavery in sex bars, strip clubs, brothels, beach resorts and cybersex dens are spreading around the world. It is an exploitation that is destroying the lives of these impoverished innocent Filipinos. Too little is being done to stop it as many officials allegedly believe it is okay and don’t enforce the law. It is causing some Filipino men and foreign sex tourists to be addicted to child sex and then go home as uncontrollable pedophiles and abuse their own or other vulnerable children. Even a three-year old was rescued by Preda social workers suffering from venereal disease. The father is in jail and on trial after the Preda social worker brought the police to arrest him. Sex tourism is also turning away family and sightseeing tourists who don’t want to be tainted and associated with the bad image this is creating.

This horrific continuous crime against children can be ended by a single executive order, strictly implemented, to close all sex bars and clubs that make girls and women available for sex. The dirty business is carried out by depraved locals and foreigners making it the scourge of the nation and a slur on the honor and name of millions of good decent Filipinos. But that is nothing compared to the suffering, trauma and life-long psychological damage that the children will carry with them all their lives. The President, noted for his strong anti-corruption campaign that has supposedly chalked up notable successes, could change the lives of as many as 800,000 exploited women and children. But the mayors and governors who coddle the sex abusers and give permits and licenses to the sex bars and clubs have political influence. To trade the lives of children for political support must not stand.

If the President and his family and administration are to leave behind a legacy of honesty, a morally cleaner country and a nation free of human trafficking, slavery and commercial sexual exploitation they must act now. To ban the sex trade would be a historic achievement for which he would be best remembered as the greatest victory of his anti-corruption drive.

Many people around the world are shocked, outraged and angered at the extent of the child abuse and sexual commercial exploitation in the mostly Catholic Philippines. Here Church leaders have yet to lead a sustained moral campaign to close down the sex industry and protect the children.

Some local government officials in collaboration with the sex mafia are the main culprits. So it would seem from the latest television documentary, “Children of The Sex Trade,” broadcast on Australian television last 25 September. Five hundred fifty thousand Australians watched it. Now it is going viral on-line and the story of young Filipino girls being trafficked, abused and then rescued by retired Australian policemen and social workers from the Preda Foundation in Olongapo city. It shows them going undercover into the Subic bars and clubs poising as sex tourists. (Link (password) COST14 When they had identified the girls in the sex bar as being underage and some older girls who told them that they had been brought there under false job offers and forced into prostitution, they called in the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and DSWD social workers. Government dental experts came also to determine the age of the victims by tooth dating. As many as 15 girls in all were rescued, some of them minors.

Now bar operators cannot know if their customers are sex tourists or undercover agents gathering evidence. The one hour documentary tells of the investigation of an Australian child abuse suspect charged in the Philippines but who jumped bail and an American owner and operator of the Crow Bar in Subic Town, Art Benjamin, who is now detained for over one year in the Bicutan immigration prison. His trial is underway before Judge Bautista in the Olongapo Regional Trial Court and a few weeks ago one of his victims, a minor at the time, testified tearfully and emotionally how she was allegedly sexually exploited and abused by Benjamin. He denies all the charges.

The Austrian Fair Traders-inspired petition addressed to President Aquino says in part: “Your administration has made positive and strong progress in fighting corruption, exploitation and has enabled the economy to improve for many Filipinos. This is admired worldwide. It gives great hope for the future of the Philippines. “We support and encourage you to continue this good work and urge you to direct your moral energy and leadership to eradicate the sexual exploitation of women and children in the Philippine sex trade and end human trafficking.” The petition is still being distributed around Austria and gathering signatures and will be presented to the Office of the President before the International Human Rights Day on December 10 by the Preda children who have been victims of exploitation and abuse. We hope and pray it will give him good reason to act and save the children.

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