Today, GABRIELA launches the Purple Rose Campaign in the Philippines. A campaign to end the massive and worsening sex trafficking of Filipino women and children. A manifestation of resistance, and a venue for a deeper probing and understanding of sex trafficking, and of the worsening plight of Filipino women and children.
Filipino women today are stuck in a plight that paves the way towards a more lucrative sex trade in a global scale. Unfortunately, rapidly increasing statistics and trends in government policies, the continuous onslaught of globalization, leave no light at the end of the dark tunnel for women.
To date, there is already an estimated number of 600,000 prostituted women and children in the Philippines, 75,000 to 100,000 are minors.
Women and girls now as young as 9 years old (and getting younger) abound in known tourist destinations and former US military bases in Olongapo, Clark, Davao, Cebu, Manila and Boracay. Victims of domestic sex trafficking, most come from far-away provinces lured by the city and deceived by recruiters, promising as escape from poverty.
Working overseas is an equally appealing escape, having lured over 7M Overseas Filipino Workers to date. Center for Women's Resources estimate that 6-8 out of every 10 OFWs are Filipinas working in vulnerable occupations as domestic helpers or as entertainers- the biggest channel for sex trafficking, Illegal recruitment, mail and e-mail order brides pornographic web sites, totaling at least 70,000 are likewise channels for sex trafficking abroad.
Filipinas make up an estimated half of the 150,000 "entertainers" in Japan. Liekwise, Filipinas have been known to end up as lap-dancers and brothel slaves in Canada, Nigeria and the Middle East, or as wives turned domestic and sex slaves in Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States.
Data from the Commission on Overseas Filipinos estimates that in the last 10 years, over 150,000 Filipinas left the country either as fiancee or spouses of foreigners. GABRIELA Networks in the US report that over 55,000 Filipinas have entered the US as mail-order brides.
A people wasted and a thrashed economy make the Philippines. It is one artificially kept afloat by the export of human resources, with OFW remittances reaching up to US$4.9B in 1998.
Another source of dollars for the govenrment is a tourism industry that banks on the Filipino women packaged with its tourist spots. Set to peak with the return of US Military personnel via the Visiting Forces Agreement, the demand for prostituted women is expected to rise.
The Philippine government's adherence to the demands of foreign capitalists and investors have resulted to low and unpaid wages and benefit, contractulaization and the unemployement of 3.9M Filipinos, 40% of which are women.
A deregulated oil industry has time and again pulled up the prices of petroleum product resulting in a chain reaction in many basic commodities. Basic services such as health and education remain out of reach as the government lets loose the private sector in its takeover.
Desperation has pushed women into the informal sector. There are now over 5M women in the underground economy, including prostitution.
Unemployment, poverty, homelessness, high prices make situation that breeds violence and exploitation, one that leaves women battered, without a choice and vulnerable to sex trafficking, whether domestic or abroad.
The steady increase in the number of prostituted women-estimated at 300,000 in 1997, 500,000 in 1998 and 600,000 in 1999, indicate an alarming trend that signify the threats of imperialist globalization on the dignity and lives of Filipino women and children.
As the government vow to religiously uphold the tenets of globalization, it would come no surprise if prostituted women and children in the Philippines reach three-fourths of a million by the end of the millennium.
A government oblivious to the woes of its women and children leave no hope. Unless women start to take militant and decisive actions and place our destiny into our own hands, a worse and gloomier future awaits Filipino women and children.