Beyond barriers

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By Radzini Oledan

Slice of Life

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


STRONG pronouncements, but weak in action.

The Philippines retained its Tier 2 status in the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, simply because it remains to be a source, transit and destination for human trafficking. Every year, an estimated 300,000 to 400 women and 1.2 million children are being trafficked in response to the demands for cheap labor or for sexual exploitation.

The countries placed under Tier 2 are those whose governments do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act's (TVPA) minimum standards. The TIP report noted a "paucity of arrests and convictions" in the previous years and cited the country's failure to comply with the standards for curbing trafficking and the poor judicial system.

Impunity and the lack of clearly defined plan to respond to the growing cases of trafficking make it possible for perpetrators to continue with their lucrative business. Government officials have stop short in wailing and condemning those who portray the country negatively but have yet to come up with measures to reduce the incidence of child abuse and the exploitation of women.

Authorities could at least start working with the different stakeholders to come up with a plan that would respond to the sexual exploitation of women. Tourism officials, including private entities can also be more pro-active in preventing sexual exploitation of women and children.

Pray tell, whatever happened to the sex-for-fly scheme perpetrated by some embassy officials against overseas workers? In cases of abuse and exploitation, what mechanism is available for survivors to be able to come out and speak up without being subjected to unnecessary exposure and further risks?

Some things are as basic as the political will to ensure the protection of women and children. Yet, we all know that the response would always spring from a common framework that understands the gravity of the situation and the willingness to be accountable on the situation.

Responding to these challenges requires a real leader to take some things forward and to be able to encourage all sectors to come together and collectively respond. This involves removing the barriers against women and children and enabling them to make informed choices and participate in governance; providing equal opportunities for women and men to productively contribute to the community and reviewing government policies and priorities that encourage the exodus of workers.

It is only when government holds itself accountable, that we can ensure that no one will fall prey to syndicates. Some things are implicitly condoned with inaction.

*****

Email comments to roledan@gmail.com

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 05, 2013.

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