Rescue Operation Philippines
by Kirsten Holmberg – Volunteer Contributing Writer
The Philippines has the highest incidence of child trafficking of any tourist area in the world and ranks fourth in child prostitution (UNICEF). While the country’s laws prohibit prostitution of any kind, enforcement of the laws is rare. In suburbs surrounding large metropolitan areas like Manila, child prostitution may be overlooked by authorities as it brings pedophile travelers known as “sex tourists” from the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia and Japan. With them comes much-needed income to areas where residents are too impoverished to live in the city.
Poverty and lack of education are the driving factors in the vulnerability of these children and their families. Only 92% of Filipino children complete their primary education, meaning that 8% of students never even begin the North American equivalent of middle school. The drop-out rate continues to increase over the remainder of their education, most commonly due to the need to assist the family in generating income. There are an estimated 1.5 million street children in the Philippines that aren’t in school and are, therefore, especially vulnerable to predators luring them into drug trafficking and child prostitution. One young girl named Sharon was forced to service more than 1500 men before she was even thirteen years old.
These statistics are well known to, and very much exploited by, highly educated, wealthy foreign child molesters. Philippine Bureau of Investigation Commissioner Marcelino Libanan reported an increasingly common tactic of the foreigners to the Philippine Daily Inquirer: “The child molesters usually meet the mothers, sometimes even the grandmothers, of possible victims online and make them their girlfriends. The women usually let the economically better-off foreigners into their lives and their homes, not knowing that the men would later pounce on their young children.” The foreign child molesters are frequently European, hold positions in politics or industry, are married, and even have children of their own. Their economic means and position in the world’s society enables them to bribe local officials and traffic Filipino children out of the country where they virtually disappear.
With a powerful adversary in the form of educated and wealthy child molesters and an enormous number of impoverished, vulnerable children, the battle lines must be drawn. To that end, Destiny Rescue is launching a new rescue program in the Philippines. This is no small task. $80,000 of support needs to be raised in order to secure the housing, rescue staff, motorbikes and houseparents that are necessary for a successful, sustainable operation in the area. Simply extracting the children from their enslavement is only the beginning of the process; they will be provided with housing, all daily needs, healthcare and counseling, along with education and vocational training.
With access to a proper education and training, these children can grow to be healthy, contributing members of society, able to sustain themselves and break the cycle of poverty for their own children and generations to come. Without it, they face a dire outlook. Without skills to generate a steady source of income with which to support themselves and a future family, they will forever be entrenched in poverty and remain vulnerable.