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2013-07-02

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Young Filipino women sexually abused by state officials: the complaint of a missionary

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - Young Filipino women are victims of sexual abuse by government officials, serving in the Philippine embassies in the Middle East: the complaint is sent to Fides by Fr. Shay Cullen, a Catholic priest, a missionary in the Philippines, who asks President Benigno Aquino for "zero tolerance on sexual exploitation". Fr. Cullen, founder of the "Preda" association, dedicated to combating child exploitation, has collected stories that accuse some perpetrators paid as officials of the government of "crimes and sexual abuse."
According to common practice, women are forced into prostitution to obtain from embassy officials a plane ticket and the formalities to return to the Philippines. Abuses are added to abuse: Filipina housemaids are often sexually abused by their employers, but now "it turns out that they are abused also by people paid by the state to assist them." Fr. Cullen requests an immediate investigation of the judiciary to ascertain the veracity and personal responsibility, on the basis of witnesses collected by him. The missionary remarked that "it will still be difficult to get to trial, given that the witnesses are already intimidated, and it is very difficult for a woman or a child sexually abused to publicly say what happened."
"This phenomenon - said in a statement sent to Fides - is a disgrace to the Filipino people." Fr. Cullen, condemning exploitation, corruption, widespread violence against women and children, calls into question "the inertia of the government." There is - he continues - a dangerous subculture in the Philippines "that tolerates in silence the rape of women and children, human trafficking. Should we be surprised that even government officials consider it their privilege and right to sexually exploit women? ".
Fr. Cullen also denounces "the widespread tolerance and encouragement of sex tourism by local governments in different provinces, which easily give licenses for nightclubs and sexy club." "The trafficking of women and children and child prostitution - concludes the note sent to Fides - are still a stigma for the Philippines" a predominantly Catholic country where there remains a thriving sex industry."
In June 2013 the Philippines ended up in the "Tier 2 Watch List," the "black list" of the "Report on Human Trafficking " drawn up by the U.S. State Department. The list includes countries that fail to meet minimum international standards in curbing human trafficking because of the scarcity of arrests and convictions and a weak judicial system. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 02/07/2013)

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