Table Talk: Modern day slavery PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 20 November 2011 16:14

BY Mike S Apostol

Many will be surprised to know that victims of human trafficking in other countries end up as modern-day slaves. This can be gleaned from the sad stories of victims who were rescued by authorities. Women victims are mercilessly locked and guarded in apartments and then forced to give in to the sex demands of their handler’s clientele for a meager fee. If they are lucky, most of the time their handler takes the lion’s share or takes everything. Slaves we call them because they are owned by their handlers while in captivity.
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Some victims of human trafficking end up as domestic helpers doing odd jobs and made to work for many, many hours leaving them little or none at all to sleep and rest. Aside from being fed with crumbs and scraps from their master’s table, they are slapped and kicked by the children of their masters for a very little mistake or delay in the performance of their daily chores. Many are beaten, raped, tortured and sometimes die of fatigue without rest and these are kept secret by their host and worst tolerated by their host government. One example is that domestic helper from Cotabato which was published in a national paper last week. It was revealed that she was found dead in the kitchen of her master in Saudi Arabia, and the cause of her death was something like she swallowed some pesticide. Her family in Cotabato had been requesting for the return of her cadaver and it took them eight months to receive her remains. What is bad is some body parts are missing. The immediate family in Cotabato is now requesting the help of our government to know the truth about this harrowing incident.
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The Philippine Coast Guard based in Zamboanga City recently rescued two female victims of human smuggling at the local port. Some months ago over ten victims were rescued in a domestic ship plying to Malaysia. Their recruiter promised them good paying jobs in neighboring Malaysia. However victims of this trafficking who were able to escape or rescued by authorities upon debriefing tell a different story. Instead of good paying jobs they were forced to work in the flesh trade for some sex starve Malaysians and then guarded and locked in their rooms. Indeed these are modern slaves because they were treated like the “comfort women” of the Japanese soldiers during World War II.
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Right in our southern provinces, islands near Malaysia, we hear of unconfirmed stories of escaped laborers from Zamboanga Del Sur who are forced to work in deep sea fishing boats, fish drying business “bularan”. Many are minors with starvation wages and not allowed to go home. If this story is true, this maybe the reason why there are so many young boys and girls who are reported to be missing for so many years now.
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The city and provincial governments in the Zamboanga Peninsula in coordination and assistance of the military and police establishment must work hand in hand to stop this modern human slavery that is causing inhuman social problems. All local government units must adopt resolutions for this purpose and render reports on any suspicion and observation relating to this modern human slavery. The tri-media must also do its share. Right now hundreds of victims are suffering inhuman treatment from their slave drivers.                                                                                                           
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Scoop: How about you, here in Zamboanga City, are you treating your helpers, maids, boy hands, laborers humanly? Are you feeding them adequately and giving them rest hours and off-days? Are they working in a safe place? Are they paid commensurately? When they commit a mistake are they physically harmed? No sexual harassment or “atsay” killer?  Please treat them as human beings because most of them come from poor families in the provinces that need our help badly. Also most of them are members of indigenous tribe, aboriginals of the Peninsula that we owe help and apology for the historical error we did to them.