The Philippines is the 12th most populated country in the world and continues to grow at a rate of 1.89% per year. The population in the country is approximately 102 million people, with 52% under the age of 24. 95% of child victims of commercial sexual exploitation are out of school children. An estimated 3.21 million children are child labourers, only 11.3% of them combine work with school.
Child labour in the Philippines
The rising population, the absolute number of poor Filipinos has been increasing rather than decreasing. The wide spread poverty drives children to work as street vendors, helpers, and farm workers. The worst forms of child labour are children working underwater, at dangerous heights, in unhealthy environment, for long hours and even during the night, as well as exposing them to physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
In the last few years Terre des Hommes Netherlands supported children at risk and victims of child labour who work in commercial agriculture, particularly in coconut and sugarcane plantations, deep sea fishing/diving, pesticide spraying, garbage collecting, handling of animal manure in poultry houses, as well as market and street vending. We worked with local government, local partners, as well as the community to ensure the alleviation of child labour and to ensure children wellbeing. We worked in Eastern and Western Samar, Municipality of Capoocan, Leyte, and the cities of Tacloban and Ormoc.
Sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines
Sexual exploitation of children is an enormous problem in the Philippines. Traveling child sex offenders from all parts of the world visit the Philippines. Sexual exploitation of children is continuously escalating along with the rise of new, easier and more convenient trends where children earn a huge amount of money with sexual transactions through social networking (Facebook, dating sites), online child abuse imagery and cybersex. Out of its 102 million people more than 40% are internet users. The proliferation of cheap internet access throughout the Philippines has opened a new path among child sex predators worldwide to purposely abuse and exploit children sexually.
We worked on prevention of sexual abuse of children in travel and tourism and online sexual exploitation through awareness raising and campaigning. Sweetie, our Filipino girl avatar, being an example of that. We provided temporary safe shelter, legal assistance, counseling, health care, education and reintegration services to victims of sexual exploitation. We also conducted (online) campaigns for the adoption of child protection policies in travel and tourism. We worked closely together with the government to enhance law enforcement on the national and regional level. This programme covered in the islands of Cebu, Boracay and Bohol in Western and Central Visayas.
Child trafficking and migration in the Philippines
Forced labour and sex trafficking of children within the Philippines is a significant problem. The number of child victims of trafficking for labour exploitation and sexual exploitation in the Philippines range from 20,000 to 100,000. Most of these children originate from poverty-stricken areas such as Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao as well as children from urbanized cities. In cross-border trafficking, children, women and men are brought to Singapore, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Hong Kong, Brunei, and Thailand to work in bars, brothers, factories, plantations and as domestic servants.
Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ programme ensures awareness raising and community education on the topic of child trafficking and migration. We provide emergency assistance to victims of trafficking, such as temporary shelter when needed, legal support, psycho-social care, reintegration back to family and community. Children also receive vocational and formal education assistance.