A WOMAN was sued for violation of Republic Act 9208, or the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003,” because she allegedly recruited a 17-year-old girl for the purpose of prostitution. As one of her defenses, the woman said that she should not be found guilty of violating the law on trafficking because the girl admitted that she has a history of engaging in prostitution and that she agreed to work as a prostitute because she needed the money.

The Supreme Court ruled that the argument is not relevant because under the law, trafficking in persons can still be committed even if the victim gives her consent. The Supreme Court explained that, “the victim’s consent is rendered meaningless due to the coercive, abusive, or deceptive means employed by perpetrators of human trafficking. Even without the use of coercive, abusive, or deceptive means, a minor’s consent is not given out of his or her own free will.”

The Court found the accused guilty of the crime of trafficking in persons, qualified by the fact that the victim was a minor. (People of the Philippines vs. Casio, G.R. 211465 [2014])