261K Filipinos victims of modern slavery

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

There are an estimated 261,200 people in modern slavery in the Philippines—equivalent to 0.2655 percent of the entire population.

Modern slavery exists in the Philippines in all its forms. However, the issue of forced labor for Filipinos working abroad is a significant concern.

The most recent survey on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) by the Philippine Statistics Authority suggests that one in every two Filipino women working abroad are unskilled and employed as domestic workers, cleaners, or in the service sector.

These sectors represent some of the highest industry risks for modern slavery. As such, Filipino women are often subject to forced labor, have no access to their passport, limited—if any—rights, and experience sexual and physical abuse by employer.

 

Sex industry

Filipino workers are also vulnerable to forced labor and involuntary servitude in the sex industry throughout Asia and the Middle East.

Of particular concern is the trafficking of women under the guise of marriage for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.

The United Nations estimates that 100,000 children in the Philippines are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation each year, with many cases linked to organized crime groups.

Filipino men are also subject to forced labor abroad, with many working in the construction industry, seafaring and maritime work, agriculture and manufacturing.

In 2013, young Filipino boxers were allegedly trafficked into Australia on sporting visas, where they were held in a debt bondage situation and forced to work in unpaid domestic labor.

Despite tensions easing in the Mindanao region following a peace deal agreement between the Philippine government and the Muslim separatist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front in May 2014, South Mindanao remains volatile.

 

Child warriors

Emerging factional conflict among breakaway gangs, Islamic militants and feuding clans threaten the newly established peace and present a risk for children being recruited in armed political groups.

Children are reportedly used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as guides and informants, and are engaged in actual armed conflict in insurgent groups like the New People’s Army, Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Forced and child labor exists in the agricultural sector within the Philippines, including in tobacco fields, banana plantations and sugarcane crops. Children living in tobacco-growing regions often work alongside their families to harvest and package tobacco leaves for export.

Children as young as 12 years old were identified in the sector, with many working more than 43 hours per week, exposing them to dangerous levels of nicotine and other hazardous farming chemicals.

Pa-Aling fishermen are subject to forced labor and exploitation at sea. The Pa-Aling fisherman face similar conditions to fisherman in Thailand and Malaysia, but these fishermen dive deep into the ocean with nothing but compressors in order to scare fish out of coral reef.

They are often forced into these situations and lack legal protection.

Source: 2014 Global Slavery Index of Walk Free Foundation

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