The world’s poverty rate is greater today than it has ever been. And it is poverty or the fear of poverty that drives people to look for ways against it. For most Filipinos, the answer is employment. Not just regular employment within the country, but employment abroad.
The problem is that - not every method of going abroad is legal. Some employment seekers fall into the hands of the wrong people. Unfortunately, some of them end up in the throes of a human trafficking syndicate.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is the practice of recruiting, harboring, transporting and receipt of people traded with exploitation in mind. It is a multi-billion dollar industry controlled by the biggest criminal masterminds in the world. Victims of human trafficking fall prey through deceptive methods and promises. Recruiters may also use fraud or coercion. Some even go to the extent of abduction. Some victims willingly go because of promises involving high salaries and great working conditions. These promises rarely come true.
“La Vie en Rose”
The common mentality among Filipinos is that “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” It may be true, but it has led some Filipino jobseekers to fall into the hands of human trafficking masterminds. They are drawn with talks of higher pay and better salaries only to find themselves traded for slavery and prostitution. Some of them never realize what is going on. They remain blissful in the fact that they are out of the country and working for “better” wages. That is until things escalate, get worse and the rose colored glasses come off.
It is only when the exhilaration and excitement fade that they realize what they have gotten into. In the past, victims of human trafficking found themselves helpless. The Philippine Government was unable to do anything about it. The sad fact is that the victim may even be the ones facing charges for illegal documentation and illegal residence. Not any more. With the establishment of the Anti-Human Trafficking Law or RA 9208, victims can now fight back.
What “Human Trafficking” Encompasses
The main reason why so many people fall prey to human trafficking is the fact that they do not know they are being trafficked. Human Trafficking can involve the following methods.
· Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation – Prostitution is one of the biggest problems when it comes to human trafficking. Women are traded in this manner may not even be aware what they are headed for. Most of them are promised domestic jobs only to find themselves sold on the streets.
· Forced Labor, Servitude and Slavery – This is also a very common practice in the trafficking of human beings. Victims are forced to work against their will and without just compensation.
· Organ Market – the organ market has rapidly grown over the last decade. It has become a common underground practice for wealthy foreigners to buy organs. Victims willingly give up their organs for cash. They are paid a very small percentage of what the middleman actually gets.
Other human trafficking methods usually involve the trade of children. Some of these methods are: illegal international adoption, children trafficked and traded into early marriage. Others are recruited as beggars and street sellers. Some are sold to cults and underground sports arenas.
Republic Act 9208
The “Anti-Human Trafficking Act” otherwise known as RA 9208 was established in 2003 to help diminish the risk of human trafficking. It also allows victims of human trafficking a way to fight back. Today, the Philippine Government is working hard against human trafficking. They are in pursuit of Human Trafficking agents. They also keep a close eye on Philippine ports and borders in order foil the illegal transport of individuals.
This act allows people to take action against their traffickers. They can set up complaints from the moment they suspect trafficking. They may also complain during the act of trafficking or after it. All that they have to do is reach the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or any Philippine government gency able to help them. Overseas Filipino workers may seek help from the Philippine Embassy.
Clues to Watch Out For
People fall prey to human traffickers because of the lack of information. They aren’t aware that they are being lured into such schemes. Below are a few clues that people should be aware of. These clues should be enough to send up red flags and people can back out in time.
· Offers Too Good to Be True and Quick Processes – When something is too good to be true, scams should always be considered. If a job opportunity promises employment within a short period of time despite the lack of qualifications – think twice! For those people who suspect scams and foul play, it is important that they verify the authenticity of their prospective employers and recruitment agencies with POEA.
· Falsification of Records and Documents - Most traffickers would falsify documents in order to make them viable. Job seekers should avoid these kinds of employers and look for a legal way.
· Passport Confiscation – Some illegal employers take hold of their victims’ passports in order to keep the victim from going back home.
Human trafficking is so rampant that the NBI has even suggested for it to be included in school curriculums. Children at an early age are made aware of the dangers and become wise enough to avoid it in the future.
Human trafficking is a serious crime. The scary thing about it is the fact that even skilled professionals are being trafficked. Keep in mind that a college education doesn’t always mean that you are wiser. Some professionals fall into the hands of Human Traffickers because of their great need to go abroad.