The fact that you are on this page means you have an interest in the Philippines. So do we!
So, why the Philippines? Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government agencies estimate that in the Philippines alone, 60,000 to 100,000 children are trafficked annually (through both cross-border and internal trafficking), and that most of these are girls will be sexually exploited. Victims are predominantly girls between 14 and 17 years of age who come from the more impoverished parts of the country.
In a country where close to 30% of the population are living below the poverty line, the Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development estimates that there are up to 200,000 children on the streets of Manila, and that at least one tenth are or become victims of human trafficking. They also estimate that the annual average increase of prostituted children is 3,266 children per year. Tragically, the Philippines ranks fourth in the world in terms of countries with the highest number of prostituted children (humantrafficking.org Philippines)
But, by far the most sickening and more recent issue is the rapidly expanding business of the cybersex industry in the Philippines. It’s effect on the innocence of impoverished children is heart-breaking. This is a billion-dollar business worldwide. The Philippines National Police (May 2017), said the level of Cybersex crime is increasing exponentially in the Philippines because of (1) an increasing ease of access to the internet, and (2) a lethal combination of extreme poverty, desperation by moms and dads, and high levels of English fluency. Combined, these factors make it easy to communicate with would-be customers who, via the internet, pay for special video viewing of children being exploited as per the virtual requests and instructions of the predator. Parents and relatives, motivated by desperation and/or greed, are often not aware that it is against the law to exploit their children in this way. And, the most horrible of statistics – the Philippines ranks FIRST in the world for the incidence of cybersex of ANY nation.
“Live-stream abuse happens in many of Philippines’ densely populated, impoverished neighborhoods”, said attorney Gideon Cauton, who works with the nonprofit International Justice Mission. “There are not enough resources to tackle all cases of online sexual exploitation of children. There is a growing need for aftercare support services for victims”.
We have a responsibility to do our part to help address the dual problem of Human Trafficking and the Cybersex industry in the Philippines, and believe Captivating is well placed to match global resources with the wonderful work of our in-country partners.
So, who are our partners?
In the Philippines we are working with and fully funding a group called the HONOR 1000 MOVEMENT, Inc (HONOR), a wonderful and energetic team of young professionals who have an incredible track record in this area. It is HONOR that own this project. HONOR was established several years ago thanks to the pioneering work and support of International Children’s Care Australia (ICCA), another wonderful group of people who invested heavily into the Philippines through the years. Shortly after spending a week with the Philippines team, late April 2018, the decision to fully partner with HONOR and their fight against Human Trafficking and the CyberSex industry was made.
To do work well and sustainably for the long term, we have also partnered with another group called GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT GROUP (GDG). This wonderful organization based in Australia, is also established around the world including some of our key donor areas of USA, UK and New Zealand. This is another fantastic team of experienced international development professionals who will work with both HONOR and CAPTIVATING to ensure our work in the Philippines complies with best practice international development guidelines. If we are going to do something significant, we want it to be best practice from the get-go. GDG will help us do that. As an Australian NGO approved by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, it is GDG that will annually review the work of HONOR, ensuring project goals and outputs are assessed throughout the project. They are also responsible for our financial accountability from donor through to project. We are very pleased, and honored, to have their support.
With HONOR as the in-country partner responsible for the project implementation, and GDG responsible for program governance and best practice, this frees up CAPTIVATING to focus on what we do best – fundraising. Nothing happens without supportive donors and companies passionate about saving lives – for in fact, that’s ultimately what this work is doing. Not just some lives – but potentially thousands. Combined, HONOR, GDG and CAPTIVATING have great plans for an expanding footprint in the Philippines. Vulnerable children and young women are relying on us to step up and fill a gap that is actually more like a gaping-hole to the potentially 100,000 children and women who will become victims of Human Trafficking this year. Most of these victims will be lost forever.
Are you with us?
Rehabilitation and support for women rescued from Human Trafficking
When a young women is rescued from human trafficking, the road to recovery is a long and challenging one for many – emotionally scared and broken from un-imaginable abuse. This is where the “Blessed” program of HONOR steps in to fill a gap most NGO’s are unwilling to journey into. It’s tough, long work filled with lots of heart-break. However, it’s a journey all girls need to go through – and they need support. What happens for each girl broken from victimization is different from the next. And, it’s a path to recovery that may take 12 – 18 months. Sometimes longer. Their support for their recovery starts with:
- Physical support by way of housing, daily food and basic personal needs. Our “trainees” are integrated into a safe and supportive home (called “Blessed House”) with full-time on-site care and support available when needed. Eventually, trainees move into their own independent housing to continue their path back to independence. At time of writing, 28 women are receiving this support.
- Emotional support with help from professionally trained counselors and social workers.
- Education and skill building through vocational skill training, special schooling courses and alternative learning. The aim of these programs is focused on securing long-term and consistent employment or establishment of their own business.
Sewing Program – one aspect of their rehabilitation is learning the skill of sewing. Trainees will learn this trade as (1) a form of therapy; (2) learning a practical skill; and (3) the ability to earn some income for personal needs. Some trainees move on themselves to take up sewing/tailoring professionally. Additionally, any income from the sewing business over and above wages to the trainees is used to offset some of the overall program expenses.
Community Mobilization - prevention through education & awareness
The Cybersex situation in the Philippines will continue unabated without preventative programs, and education sits at the heart of this. Until a social consciousness is developed that recognizes children are still being exploited, even when there is no physical touching from a predator because it’s “online”, then the abuse will continue. This problem, if not stopped, results in children growing up to become teens who have themselves no moral compass, seeing this as nothing more than easy money to be made. But, it easily continues the downward spiral from soft porn into prostitution and potential victimization through forced sexual conduct.
Our Community Mobilization program aims to tackle the problem from two directions:
- Educating adults – teaching adults that the practice of Cybersex is NOT ok. That it’s extremely damaging to children. And, that it’s not just morally wrong, but that it’s a criminal offence in the Philippines. HONOR employs and trains advocacy workers who make regular presentations to all clients of the Honor 1000 Micro-finance program – a problem reaching over 2,000 women spread over 130 groups, and having access to four key impoverished and trafficking hot-spots of the Philippines.
- Educating children – by teaching children about cyber-safety, what is appropriate behavior and what is not. It’s through these programs with partner schools that the message of safety can start young. This training will ensure that a child knows when boundaries are being crossed so they can make conscious decisions on what to do next – and who they can talk to. We are addressing this by holding child friendly participatory child programs within school locations, and during school holidays. Subject to funding, we will roll out a program of consistent messaging in key hot-spot locations within and around Manila and our project regions.
Micro-Finance - bringing freedom from poverty; reducing the need to make desperate choices
The key cause that sits behind the Trafficking of Persons is extreme poverty. When a women has no other way of reasonably earning money to sustain herself or her family, she will become desperate. Poor choices, including the high prospect of abuse result in a downward spiral.
Micro-finance programs are the key to addressing this – a proven model for people to start pulling themselves out of poverty.
WHAT IS MICROFINANCE?
People in poverty do not have access to the commercial lending banks. Where finance may be available, unscrupulous loan sharks take advantage of borrowers by charging exorbitant interest, leading the family into perpetual poverty. This can lead to the selling of their children or carrying incredible levels of debt that continues over several generations. Women seeking to finance a small business such as tailoring, selling or small-scale manufacturing are locked into this poverty cycle. They, again, get desperate and are easily coerced into forced labor or trafficking.
Microfinance helps by providing families with the opportunity to take out small loans to either start or grow their business. Once they are approved for the loan, they become part of the microfinance community and meet weekly to discuss business ideas and also encourage each other in their daily lives. This strategy not only helps financially but also encourages them to think about what they would like to achieve and how they can do that.
“I’ve seen the power of microfinance all over the world in the eyes of mothers and fathers. It’s unmistakable—the joy and deep satisfaction they feel from being able to work hard and provide for their children and their future.” Rich Stearns – President, World Vision U.S
For example, one client in the Philippines borrowed $30 to purchase some chickens. She sells the eggs and chickens she raises. Over a few months she was able to repay the small loan at a very low interest rate and has now tripled her assets and has enough income to feed her children three healthy meals a day. In some cases women are then able to employ other women. Microfinance loans to women have proven very successful, and almost 100% of loans are repaid in full. Loan recipients are asked to form groups of five to support and encourage each other and to assist each other to repay the loan. The project lenders provide training and business skills to these groups. This empowers the women as they provide their own solution to generations of poverty and further creates a sisterhood of caring.
Over the past 6 years, Honor 1000 Movement Inc have progressively established a micro-finance program that today supports in excess of 2,000 clients each week. Stretching across 4 regions of the Philippines (Bataan, Siquijor, Gen San, Floridablanca) 129 fellowship groups meet weekly as individual cooperatives, along with an Honor 1000 loans officer, working together to progress their businesses. It’s a fantastic model filled with success stories of women (many of whom are single moms) being able to keep their kids in school, nutritious food on the table, and live safely in comfortable homes. These women know that it’s their educated children that will one day look after them in the retirement. Most importantly, the children of these families, and their mom, will likely remain safe from Human Trafficking. The attraction to migration is off the radar.
Captivating is honored to work with the Honor 1000 Movement to (1) support their existing program through the financing of the Honor 1000 team as they direct and support the Micro-Finance program; but also (2) work to progressively expand the loan capital of the Micro-Finance program to impact more clients. Expansion of the microfinance program will one day result in the work of Honor 1000 Movement Inc becoming sustainable in their own right. This is our dream as partners.
You can follow Honor 1000 Movement on their Facebook page – Honor 1000 Movement