Ninotchka Rosca: ‘RP is major exporter of women as sex slaves’

Community News & Features Feb 16, 2005 at 3:39 pm

TORONTO–The Philippine government’s complicity, inaction and neglect and international market forces are causing the massive global sex trade and modern-day slavery of Filipino women and children, the international spokesperson of Gabriela’s Purple Rose Campaign Againts the Sex Trafficking of Filipino Women said.

Speaking at a forum organized by the Philippine Women’s Centre of Ontario Friday, February 11 at the Ontario Institute for Special Studies in Education in downtown Toronto, Ms. Ninotchka Rosca said the Philippines under the current administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a major exporter of women as virtual sex slaves around the world.

The Purple Rose Campaign (PRC) is an international initiative by Gabriela, the largest alliance of women’s organization in the Philippines to raise awareness on the issue of sex trafficking of Filipino women and children; the brutal control exercised over women and children victims; the high incidence of violence and tremendous self-sacrifice women undergo to ensure the economic survival of their families in the Philippines. The PRC aims to provide the means by which everyone and anyone can express disapproval and opposition against the use of the sex trade and forced labor as a means of propping up the collapsing economy.

What is Sex Trafficking?

Ms. Rosca states that sex trafficking “is a systematic transport of humans across borders within and outside the country for the purpose of trade in sex. This leads to prostitution of victims who are mostly women and children, with or without their knowledge.” In most cases, force, intimidation and deception are used on the victims.

Studies indicate that Filipinos are exported as sex commodity to nearly 200 countries where “their fates are barely monitored by a weak and uncaring government.” As details of murders, suicides, physical violence and sexual assaults committed against Filipino women overseas come to light, participants questioned why past administrations starting from the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Corazon Aquino, Gen. Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and the country’s current woman President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo allowed these grave human rights violations to continue.

Ms. Rosca explained how the inter-relations of the Philippine Labor Export Policy (adopted since the time of the late dictator Marcos up to GMA), government corruption, red tape and mishandling of the country’s economy, complicity and neglect, colonialism, destruction of traditional cultures and the need to service the huge $80B foreign debt have relegated the Philippines as a major source of trafficked women and children for the global sex trade.

International reports on slavery, according to Ms. Rosca reveal that the international sex trade run by the mafia and Asian gangs, “now accounts for more than 50,000 women held in bondage in the U.S. alone.”

This was also confirmed by Canada’s Justice Minister Irwin Cotler. In a recent interview with the Law Times of Canada, a newspaper read by judges and practicing lawyers, Justice Minister Cotler calls “the global sex trade, the fastest growing international criminal industry in the world. It is a $10-billion industry, and the manner in which women are bonded and bartered is a real assault on morality.”

“However, recent data indicate that it is not only criminal elements that are involved in trafficking and export of women as sex slaves,” says Ms. Rosca.

“Governments are complicit. In Europe, trafficked women are issued work visas. In Canada, a growing number of Filipino women come as mail-order brides. Under globalization, mail-order brides have become a major component of the international trafficking of women. In the United States, around 5,000 Filipino women enter as mail-order brides per year.”

“In Australia, an estimated 20,000 Filipino women come as mail-order brides – 22 have been murdered or disappeared since 1980. In Japan, over 7,240 Filipino women come as entertainers/prostitutes. In South Korea, about 600 Filipino women have been recruited as entertainers, hostesses and receptionists in bars. Tour agencies in the United States offer sex tour packages in the Philippines – ranging from $1,000.00 to $3,000 which include introduction to women as ‘escorts’. Latest reports indicate that there are 150,000 Filipinos in Japan working as prostitutes. In addition, the export of young Filipino males to Japan’s gays and transvestite erotic market is a growing trend,” she said.

“The sex trade and trafficking of women and children is tantamount to slavery that violates the fundamental tenets and guarantees of the UN Charter of Rights and Freedom,” Ms. Rosca added.