WOAM & IJM Join Forces to Shed Light on Anti-Trafficking in the Philippines
Updated: Nov 20, 2019
For Immediate Release
Singapore, 19 November 2019 – Women on a Mission (WOAM), a non-profit organisation headquartered in Singapore that supports and empowers women survivors of violence and abuse, has partnered with International Justice Mission (IJM), a global organisation that protects those living in poverty throughout the developing world by combatting violent forms of oppression, including sex trafficking.
In January 2020, an international delegation of women from Singapore will head to Manila, Philippines, to learn more about how IJM’s efforts are helping to protect vulnerable populations. During the 4-day visit (January 15-18), the women will discover how IJM supports the local public justice systems in the Philippines to help protect children from a particularly harrowing form of modern slavery – online exploitation of children (OSEC).
IJM staff will draw WOAM participants closer to their work on the front-lines by hearing first hand accounts from IJM lawyers, and social workers, and meeting local government power actors who combat OSEC. “IJM is thrilled to be partnering with Women on a Mission (WOAM), specifically in the Philippines, where we are fighting against the evil of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC). IJM’s ambitious goal – to end OSEC – will require the tenacity of not only governments and NGOs, but also individuals, networks and civil society engagement. We are thankful that the WOAM community is willing to draw close to the very dark issue of OSEC, and look forward to multiplying our efforts through this intentional engagement in January 2020.” – Evelyn Pingul, National Director of Communication, Activations and Partnerships, IJM Philippines
OSEC Primarily Fuelled by Predators in the West
OSEC is a growing problem in the Philippines, with thousands of referrals coming to the Philippines every month. 48% of OSEC victims rescued by IJM are 12 years old or younger, and the youngest victim rescued by IJM and local authorities was a two month-old baby. No data exists on the exact number of child victims of OSEC because it is a very hidden and layered crime, made more complex because of the anonymity of the internet. OSEC is primarily fuelled by demand from child sexual predators in Western countries; they no longer need to travel to abuse children, and instead can direct abuse online from the comfort of their homes. There is a very real and urgent need to strengthen laws and penalties in Western countries and raise awareness of the realities of OSEC. This is a global issue that will only be resolved with a very clear and coordinated approach.
Since 2011, IJM has partnered with local law enforcement to rescue more than 550 children from dens of online sex abuse. With the support of government social workers, these children are placed in partner aftercare shelters, which are equipped with trauma-informed care trainings to care for survivors. After a period of sustained and intense rehabilitation, social workers assess opportunities for next of kin to take over the responsibilities of raising the child. Because of the complexity of the crime, some children cannot return home, and instead remain in long-term residential facilities to continue their healing process and finish their studies. In a small number of IJM-supported cases, very young children can be placed with foster carers.
Local traffickers who facilitate OSEC can earn up to US$100 per show. In 77% of IJM-supported cases, the local traffickers are family members or relatives. OSEC thrives in environments where laws are not effectively enforced, and many perpetrators believe they will never be caught. Because OSEC generates “easy money” with a seemingly endless supply of customers, we need a strong, united and closely coordinated strategy within local and global law enforcement teams in order to fight and ultimately end OSEC.
Mount Pinatubo Lake Hike
The trip will end with a half day hike to the beautiful Mt. Pinatubo crater lake. When Mount Pinatubo erupted in June 1991, it spewed out more than five cubic kilometres of magma and sent an ash cloud 35 kilometres into the air and was the second largest eruption of the 20th century, exceeded only by the 1912 eruption of Mount Novarupta in Alaska.
Today, if you drive out two hours from Manila to the historic town of Capas in the Tarlac Province, you can follow a 25-kilometre trail to the stunning crater of this 1,486-metre-high volcano. Four-wheel-drive vehicles take you across approximately 18 kilometres of the terrain, through a deserted valley flanked by huge lahar mountains, formed by the tremendous volume of mud and ash deposited after the eruption and you hike up the last 6km to the stunning vivid blue-green lake, which is 2.5 kilometres in diameter, and about 800 metres deep - incidentally making it the deepest lake in the country.
Through this eye-opening and educational trip, the group hopes to shed more light on the issue of OSEC and bring international attention to the need for societies, governments and corporations to get involved and help put a stop to this horrific form of violence against children.
FIND OUT MORE
WOAM is a non-profit organisation headquartered in Singapore, which combines challenging, self-funded, expeditions to remote and majestic locations around the world as a way to raise awareness and funds for women survivors of war and to support and empower women who have been subjected to violence and abuse. The organisation works with well-established non-profit institutions that already have programmes and structures in place dedicated to serving the underprivileged with a particular focus on women's issues.
Now in its seventh year of operation, WOAM has raised well over $1,000,000 Singapore dollars to date, to support organisations that advance the position of women around the world. In addition to IJM, WOAM also supports Women for Women International, an NGO that provides practical and moral support to women survivors of war, and the following Singapore-based charities: AWARE - Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group; UN Women;Aidha - a Singapore NGO empowering domestic workers; and Pertapis Home for Women and Girls. The past ten WOAM expeditions have been to regions of the Himalayas, the Middle East, Africa, Indonesia, Mongolia and the Arctic Circle. To learn more please visit: http://www.womenmission.com
About International Justice Mission:
International Justice Mission (IJM) is the world’s largest international anti-slavery organization working in 20 communities to combat slavery, trafficking, and other forms of violence against the poor by rescuing and restoring victims, holding perpetrators accountable, and transforming broken public justice systems. Learn more at www.ijm.org.
Dates of of the trip: January 15-18, 2020