Babies and toddlers get trafficked in Davao region: Report

VICTIMS of trafficking in the Davao Region includes toddlers and babies between zero to six years old.

Of the 132 cases served by the Department of Social Service and Development in Davao Region from January to December 2016, four cases are in the zero to six age bracket, said its social worker Janet Arendain.

Thirteen cases were in the seven to 13 age bracket; 33 cases in 13-17 age group; 55 cases in 18-35 bracket, and 24 cases in 36-59 bracket.

This translates to one in almost three trafficking cases involve children below 18 years of age.

The number, Arendain said, is 43.5% more than the number of cases they served in 2015 (92 cases).

Of the total in 2016, 100 are new while the remaining are old clients that sought their help. Of these, 20 were males and 112 females.

She bared that four cases involved minors from zero to six years old; 13 cases in the seven to 13 age bracket; 33 cases in 13-17 age group; 55 cases in 18-35 bracket and 24 cases in 36-59 age bracket.

In the region, Davao City has the highest number of cases with a total of 79 which is attributed to the socio-economic activities of the city, being a center for commerce and trade in Mindanao.

Davao del Norte has 24 cases served, Davao del Sur with 10, Davao Oriental with nine and Compostela Valley, four. Butuan City, Surigao and Negros Occidental each has one case while North Cotabato has three cases.

"Sometimes these victims from other places were trafficked here in the region," Arendain said.

Arendain noted the primary reasons victims are trafficked are illegal recruitment (52), sexual exploitation (27), forced labor (29), child pornography (22), illegal adoption (1) and minor involved in armed conflict (1).

DSWD has already provided various kinds of intervention to assist the victims like employment (29), transportation (24), education (21), livelihood (8), burial (4) and medical assistance (10).

Some children, after being provided temporary shelter in the center, were turned over to their respective homes.

Meanwhile, last December 12, 2016, the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (Iacat) where DSWD is a member, led the unveiling of the mural painting and culmination of Anti-Trafficking Awareness Month at the Southern Philippines Medical Center-Institute of Psychiatry & Behavioral Medicine (SPMC-IPBM) at J.P. Laurel Avenue, Davao City.

The paintings were anchored on a theme "Let our children be: Let's end Human Trafficking," which is part of their advocacy campaign to intensify public awareness by portraying a positive image of how a community will look if it's free from human trafficking.

It aimed to convey a positive message for children in order to spark curiosity among the public on how children would be - free from exploitation and slavery, adding that their innocence must be preserved.

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