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Church groups urge gov’t to address root causes of human trafficking












An interfaith group marked the World Day Against Trafficking on Friday by calling on the government to intensify its campaign against the modern slavery by addressing its root causes.

Saying that selfishness of exploiters is just one cause of trafficking, the Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking (Pimaht) said there’s also a need to look at the economic angle.

“We especially hope that it will finally address the root causes of trafficking – create life-sustaining jobs at home and extend basic social services to the poor to enable them to better their situations,” Pimaht said.

“We also call for the government to justly prosecute its officials involved in these schemes,” it appealed.

The group stressed that the Covid-19 pandemic is creating conditions ripe for human trafficking as economic crisis resulting from the crisis exposes the unemployed to traffickers.

In March to May 2020, the Justice department also reported an increase of 264.63 percent, or more than 202,605 reported incidents of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) compared to the same period in 2019.

The group said this affirmed their concern that when a humanitarian crisis breaks out under extreme conditions of poverty, social problems like OSEC thrive.

“Thus, government agencies, churches, faith communities and organizations must work hand in hand to support and protect vulnerable groups like children and make communities safer for them especially at this time of pandemic,” Pimaht said.

Formed in 2012, Pimaht is composed of three largest Christian Church Councils in the country — the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, National Council Churches in the Philippines, and the Philippines Council of Evangelical Churches.

They also tapped other organizations in its fight against human trafficking including the Talitha Kum – Philippines, International Justice Mission Philippines, and the Philippine Children’s Ministries Network.

They encouraged the churches to strengthen human trafficking awareness in communities and keep extending mercy, compassion and solidarity to the victims.

“Let us offer our spaces and resources for their needs. Let’s continue accompanying them in their quest for justice and accountability,” they said.

In 2013, the United Nations declared July 30 every year as World Day Against Trafficking to raise awareness of the growing crime and to protect the rights of the victims.

This year, there is an increased focus on the victims to highlight the importance of listening to, and learning from the survivors of human trafficking.

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