‘Take good care of yourselves,’ Dr. Marcelina Carpizo, Director, Western Mindanao State University Center for Peace and Development (WMSU-CPD), told grade school pupils of the WMSU Integrated Laboratory School during an orientation on human trafficking held on September 23, in line with the Girl Scout camping activity of the school.
Dr. Carpizo opened her lecture with a viewing of the animated film titled ‘Red Leaves Falling’, a true story of two sisters, aged 12 and 8. They were trafficked, prostituted and subjected to child pornography, but were eventually rescued. A street sweeper who knew about the ‘casa’ where the children were kept, was conscience-stricken and eventually tipped the police.
Reacting to the story after the film viewing, the kids had these to say: ‘Nakakaawa dahil wala silang kalaban-laban (referring to the trafficked children).’ ‘Nakakainis ang nanay dahil ibinenta niya and kanyang anak.’ ‘Hindi ko masabi ang aking feeling – inis, galit, awa.’
Dr Carpizo explained that pursuant to RA 9208 otherwise known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, trafficking involves three elements, the act, the means and the purposes.
The act, she said, includes transport and transfer of persons from one place to another, harboring of persons and recruitment.
The means of recruitment may be through threat or use of force, other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud or deception, abuse of power or position, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the person, and giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another.
The purposes would include sexual exploitation, prostitution, forced labor, slavery, servitude, turning young boys into child soldiers, or the removal of vital organs for sale.
Dr. Carpizo emphasized that, even in the absence of any of the afore-stated means, the act can still be considered trafficking if the victim is a child or even an adult who is physically or mentally challenged. This is so because children and persons with disability are indeed so vulnerable and so defenseless.
Finally, Dr. Carpizo advised the children participants to be wary about spending time alone or going out with strangers, and even with persons who are known to them, if they feel that the other seems to have some ulterior motives towards them. If a trafficked victim is lucky to be rescued, he/she still has to deal with the physical, psychological and emotional trauma brought about by the experience. Hence, Dr. Carpizo reiterated, ‘Children, take good care of yourselves’. (Ms. Evelyn C. Luceño, PAO-WMSU)