Frequently-asked questions

Q: What is sex trafficking?

Q: What acts may be involved in sex trafficking?

Q: What practices are often associated with sex trafficking?

Q: What is the profile of the trafficked women?

Q: Why do countries need anti-trafficking laws?

Q: In what way does tourism abet sex trafficking?

Q: In what way does foreign employment about sex trafficking?

Q: Why is marriage matching a form of trafficking?

Q: What is the profile of a mail-order-bride?

Q: Why is sex trafficking a human rights violation?

Q: Are there existing anti-sex trafficking laws in the Philippines?

Q: Why does sex trafficking in women continue unabated despite such laws?

Q: Are there existing anti-trafficking laws and anti-prostitution policies in other countries?

Q: What are the anti-trafficking legal measures in Asia?

Q: What forms do international human rights instruments usually take?

Q: What international instruments address trafficking in women?

Q: What limits their effectiveness in addressing the issues they cover?

 

ANSWERS:

Q: What is sex trafficking?

A: Sex trafficking is the transport, sale and purchase of women and girls for prostitution, bonded labor and sexual enslavement within the country or abroad.

Q: What acts may be involved in sex trafficking?

A: Sex trafficking often involves the use of force (e.g.,kidnapping and abduction); the use of threats, trickery, deceit,false promises and other enticements; and a variety of forms and practices where women are sexually exploited (e.g., brothel prostitution, sex tours, marriage matching arrangements, serial sponsorships and other work used as fronts for prostitution, sex shows and pornography).

Q: What practices are often associated with sex trafficking?

A: Sex trafficking operates in conjunction with practices where women are sexually exploited such as brothel prostitution;military prostitution, sex tours and marriage matching arrangements.

Q: What is the profile of the trafficked women?

A: Trafficked women, in general, are poor who come from both urban and rural areas and who have little or no education at all. Most of them are single or single mothers. A substantial number of them have background of abuse, went through unsuccessful or abusive marriage or failed relationship. Many of them, too, are runaways. They are also from families who expect daughters to support their family.

Q: Why do countries need anti-trafficking laws?

A: Sex trafficking has increased through the years with the increase in labor migration. It has not only affected women but also children. UNICEF estimates that India has 300,000 prostituted children; Thailand, 200,000; Vietnam, 40,000; and Sri Lanka, 30,000 (Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 19, 1995, page 24).

CATW-Asia Pacific estimates that there are 300,000 prostituted women in the Philippines. The International Labor Organization estimates go up to 400,000-500,000 in the Philippines. Figures reveal that the 75,000 prostituted children in the Philippines in 1993 has increased to 100,000 in 1995 (Source: Salinlahi, a Philippine NGO for children). Despite government warnings, more and more Asians go to other countries for economic reason. The number of entertainers who go abroad has increased tremendously.

Labor migration is directly proportional to sex trafficking.

Q: In what way does tourism abet sex trafficking?

A: Tourism in developing countries sells people by advertising them as domesticated and trained to serve tourists. It uses local women, directly or indirectly, to attract foreigners. A country is promoted as a land of women , ergo sexual pleasure, for sale. An ad in the Internet reads: “Wet and Wild Fun in the Philippines for $19.95.” In some European and Japanese magazines, the Philippines is being promoted as “pedophile’s paradise” and a treasure land of prostitutes. No wonder male tourists comprise the biggest number of visitors ,with 86 percent Arabs and 81 percent Japanese male tourists in the Philippines in 1996.

Q: In what way does foreign employment about sex trafficking?

A: The more women who go abroad as entertainers or domestic helpers, the higher the number of victims of prostitution. Philippine Overseas Employment Administration figures say that out of the 31, 674 new composers and performing artists the agency processed in 1997, more than 30,000 are women. And out of this number, 24,808 went to Japan as entertainers. Entertainment is the main channel of prostitution in Asia.

Q: Why is marriage matching a form of trafficking?

A: The business of bride trade or marriage matching is sex trafficking because it treats women as a commodity to be sold to foreign men. The purpose is not to find lifetime loving partners for women but to supply foreign men with a wife to be treated as a sex object, domestic worker and all-around slave. Some religious cults or groups practice bride trade through large-scale recruitment of foreign women to provide wives to their members or followers. In 1996, 984 Filipino women were computer-matched by a Korean religious sect with predominantly Korean men who were reported to have paid $2,000 each for the service. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 25, 1996, page 1 and The Manila Chronicle, February 4, 1996) During the same period, it was found out that 70 percent of the 20,000 mail-order-brides in Australia are Filipinas. (Center for Philippine Concerns, Melbourne, Australia).

Q: What is the profile of a mail-order-bride?

A: The mail-order-bride is not different from any woman who is a victim of sex trafficking. She may be an unemployed or underemployed college graduate or less educated poor rural woman.The Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO) of the Department of Foreign Affairs counseled 18, 598 Filipino fiancees/spouses of foreign nationals in 1996. Of this figure, 91 percent were women, 70 percent had limited or no knowledge of their host country, 62 percent were below 30 years old and 42 percent were unemployed.

Q: Why is sex trafficking a human rights violation?

A: Sex trafficking systematically violates women’s human rights including the right to life and security of persons. It places women in danger of physical abuse and deprives them of bodily integrity. They are constrained of the right to travel and to freedom of movement, as those who wish to travel abroad are placed at risk of being victimized by traffickers and those sold to prostitution are kept in brothels and prevented from leaving or even communicating with their families back home. Their freedom from slavery and abuse is violated, as a trafficked woman who is prostituted becomes the slave of any man who “buys” her; and right to legal protection, because a trafficked woman is often the victim of illegal recruiters or travels through illegal channels, therefore not covered by the laws of the country of destination.

Q: Are there existing anti-sex trafficking laws in the Philippines?

A: There is no Philippine law that squarely addresses sex trafficking at present. There are, instead, laws that pertain to similar or related acts that may be used to bring traffickers to justice. Migrants Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act (R.A. 8042) Mail Order Bride Law (R.A. 6955) Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act (R.A.7610) Revised Penal Code (punishing White Slave Trade) Philippine Passport Act of 1996 (R.A. 8239) A bill entitled “Anti-Trafficking in Women and Minors Act of 1998” is pending at the House of Representatives.

Q: Why does sex trafficking in women continue unabated despite such laws?

A: The existing laws do not specifically address sex trafficking as a crime. Furthermore, the nature of sex trafficking is such that victims are unwilling or reluctant to come out and reveal that they have been subjected to abuse. Unless a law defining sex trafficking, penalizing the same and providing strict protective measures for the victims’ privacy and security is passed, the practice shall continue.

Q: Are there existing anti-trafficking laws and anti-prostitution policies in other countries?

A: Belgium enacted a law against trafficking in human beings and child pornography on 13 April 1995. The law recognizes that the main intent in trafficking is to exploit the trafficked person in the country of destination. Systematic follow-up of the law was entrusted to the Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism. Sweden has enacted a law in 1998 prohibiting men from purchasing sexual services. The law which took effect in January 1999 mandates imprisonment and fines for male buyers of sex but gives leeway to women in prostitution. In Venezuela, the government has denied the application for the recognition of prostitution as work and of women in prostitution as sex workers.

The government based its decision on five national laws that already disqualify prostitution from being considered as work.

Q: What are the anti-trafficking legal measures in Asia?

A: There is the Suppression of Immoral Trafficking Act of 1993 in Bangladesh which provides punishment for forcing a girl into prostitution. Abetment by having custody or charge of the girls is also penalized. Section 11 of the Act prohibits the detention of any female child under the age of 18 against her will in any house, room or places in which prostitution is carried out. Also in Bangladesh, the Woman and Child Repression (Special Provisions) Act was enacted in 1995 imposing life imprisonment and fine for trafficking and associated offenses. In Thailand, the draft of the Measures in Prevention and Suppression of Trafficking in Women and Children Act was passed by the House of Representatives and was approved by the House of Senates with minor alterations. It awaits the House of Representatives’ consent to the alterations. Should the draft be passed into law, it shall repeal the current Trafficking in Women and Girls Act B.E. 2471. Bangladesh and Pakistan government officials have expressed ignorance of the phenomenon. While Bangladesh provides the death penalty for traffic in women, only one person so far has been sentenced since its passing in 1987. Japan’s only applicable law related to prostitution is the Anti-Prostitution Act promulgated in 1958.

However, this law penalizes the women instead of the men who use them. It does not offer any solution to the problem of trafficking and prostitution. New Zealand’s Contagious Act gives the police the power to arrest prostitutes, to order medical examinations for venereal disease and to impose treatment if found positive. The Massage Parlours Act, also in New Zealand, has been designed to get rid of prostitution in massage parlours by allowing the police to monitor such establishments. New Zealand has domestic laws against slavery.

Q: What forms do international human rights instruments usually take?

A: International human rights instruments may be:

  1. a convention which binds ratifying countries to fulfillment of the provisions thereof, subject to reservations validly made. Conventions have the force of law;

  2. a resolution which is a timely declaration of intent to address an important issue brought to the attention of the UN for action; and

  3. a conference statement which is the political consensus of countries participating in a conference or summit. It is not legally binding.

Q: What international instruments address trafficking in women?

A: International instruments addressing trafficking in women are the:

– 1949 Convention on the Suppression of Trafficking in Persons and the Prostitution of Others
– 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery
– 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
– 1990 Vienna Declaration on Human Rights
– 1992 Recommendation No. 19 of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
– 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women
– 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Declaration
– 1995 Beijing Platform or Action
– 1997 Commission on the Status of Women and General Assembly resolutions on Traffic in Women and Girls initiated by the government of the Philippines. (This has been filed every year since 1994)

Q: What limits their effectiveness in addressing the issues they cover?

A: International instruments are dependent on the political will of governments. After ratification, governments are bound to comply through national legislation. However, government action on the conventions often leaves a lot to be desired.

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