Filipinos raise awareness of human trafficking

By Steve Angeles , ABS-CBN North America Bureau

August 25, 2014

LOS ANGELES – Whether as indentured servants, prostitutes, or cheap labor, human trafficking is an epidemic that an estimated 27 million people globally live with, and with the Philippines as one of the largest source countries, residents of historic Filipino town say it’s time to ignore no more, hosting a forum on human trafficking.

“We would like to partner with A21 organization, whose mission is to abolish trafficking by 2021,” said Rose Marie Mejia, president of the Mother Movement. “We are here to help them and collaborate with them and partner with them for whatever we can do to accomplish that mission.”

Trafficking prevention groups like A21 says one of the most common schemes involve job recruitment schemes, where employers promise quality work abroad. However, victims end up working in slave-like conditions with confiscated passports, under tiring conditions with little pay and are left with fewer options.

The Mother Movement themselves have assisted Filipinos in this situation before.

“A lot of it is they’re too scared to speak up because either they develop relationships with their pimps – especially in America,” said Ariana Costadini of A21.

This month, the California State Legislature passed bills that would treat trafficking as a gang crime as well as streamline the prosecution of suspected traffickers.

“The first step to ending human trafficking is to be aware of human trafficking, and I feel like over the last few years, people especially in America are being more knowledgeable and more aware of what is going on in their own backyard – so thank goodness laws are being passed,” said Costadini. “New legislation is being put into place so that trafficking can be nonexistent.”

As the state and country crack down on trafficking, groups like A21 continue to provide homes, counseling, and work training for any potential victims the Filipino community can find.

With many groups trying to help the epidemic, victims can get more than daily needs – in certain circumstances, victims can avail of humanitarian aids such as special visas and protections from the U.S. government.

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