News/Philippines: Trade in women, children said world's ...

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Subject: News/Philippines: Trade in women, children said world's ...
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri May 26 2000 - 08:57:26 EDT


                    Trade in women, children said world's ...

OTC 3-29-00 7:19 AM

MANILA, March 29 (Kyodo) -- By: Teresa Cerojano About one million women
and children are sold yearly as modern-day slaves in the world's fastest
growing business, an international conference addressing the problem said
Wednesday.
    Anita Botti, chairman of the U.S. Interagency Task Force on Trafficking
in Women, estimates that of the one million women and children, about
250,000 are from Southeast Asia and 150,000 to 200,000 are from the former
Soviet Union. Out of the total, 50,000 women and children are trafficked
into the United States.
    "This cynical and shameless trade distorts our economies, degrades our
societies, endangers our neighborhoods, and robs many of our citizens of
their dreams, their dignity, and often their very lives," U.S. Secretary
of State Madeleine Albright said in calling for action against the
problem.
    Albright was speaking to a Manila meeting of the Asian Regional
Initiative Against Trafficking in Women and Children (ARIAT) via
videotape.
    The conference, jointly sponsored by the Philippines and the U.S., aims
to craft a regional action plan integrating prosecution of the crime with
prevention, protection and reintegration.
    The U.N. Development Fund for Women estimates the yearly trade is worth
some $7 billion, next only to the drugs and arms trades in terms of value
to criminal groups.
    Trafficking involves recruitment, transport or sale of persons across
international borders or within a country through force, fraud, deception
or coercion for purposes of forced labor or services, including forced
prostitution, domestic servitude, bonded sweatshop labor or other debt
bondage.
    In East Asia and the Pacific, there are countries of origin, transit
and destination where hundreds of thousands of women and children are
forced into sweatshop labor, domestic servitude and the sex industry,
conference papers showed.
    Traffickers capitalize on rising unemployment, lack of viable economic
opportunities and on the low status of women, they said.
    "Trafficking is one of the fastest growing and most lucrative criminal
enterprises in the world. After drugs and guns, it is considered the third
largest source of profits for organized crime," said Ralph Boyce, U.S.
deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.
    Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon told the meeting the
Philippines, now the largest migrant nation, has seen many of its
nationals fall prey to trafficking. As of December 1999, there were more
than 5.5 million Filipinos overseas, many employed as contract workers and
a majority of them women.
    Siazon called for a comprehensive regional plan of action to go on
offensive against the issue, and the possible tapping of official
development assistance to fight the crime.
    He said at the national level, there is need to strengthen the criminal
justice system for proper handling of cases, hasten legislation of
comprehensive response to all trafficking-related acts, and undertake more
research for policy formulation and program implementation.
    Internationally, bilateral, regional and multilateral arrangements for
the enforcement of extraterritorial laws must be mapped out and closer
cooperation forged in the formulation of joint policies and action.
    "Such action may include tapping official development assistance, since
anti-trafficking is a social-development issue," Siazon said.
    The three-day conference, attended by delegates from more than 20
Asia-Pacific nations plus the U.S., Canada and the European Union, is
expected to come up Friday with a regional action plan against the
trafficking.


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