CEBU, THE PHILIPPINES – Last week, IJM helped local police rescue half a dozen young women trafficked for sex. Several of the women are young mothers, and a few are still in school while trying to provide for children. All are extremely poor. As they shared their stories with IJM staff, they explained how the pimps who trafficked them were taking advantage of very desperate needs.
"The pimp was taking advantage of vulnerability – a violation of the Philippines' anti-trafficking law," explained IJM Cebu Director of Legal Interventions Mark Anthony del Mundo. He said one young woman told him how the pimp had pressured her over and over again, convincing her that this was her only option to get the money she needed to stay in school.
IJM's lawyers will support the prosecution of the two suspected traffickers arrested during last week's operation. Selling an underage girl for sex is a serious crime under Philippine law. The anti-trafficking law also includes consequences for those who traffic women older than 18, as long as there is evidence that the woman was deceived, coerced or forced, or that the accused took advantage of her vulnerability to push her into the exploitation.
After the young women received immediate crisis care at HerSpace, a temporary shelter for trafficking survivors, they returned to their homes. IJM will continue to follow up with them, to encourage them to take advantage of resources that can help them build the lives they desire.