Child trafficking, particularly in the Philippines, is a ponderous problem with a hidden number of victims. Exact numbers to represent this dark crime are elusive, but it is telling that Alpas & Amaris homes get steady calls from local agencies needing a safe place for another abused girl. With a problem so big it is hard to see its edges, how do allies approach a solution? Instead of only chasing down perpetrators of crime, NGOs like Consider the Lily have put greater effort into prevention.
The causes are known
The stories of individual girls are uniquely their own, but the reason they come to a Consider the Lily home is the same—each is a victim. Similarly, they share common factors in their home lives that lead to their victimization: poverty, lack of education, housing and food insecurity, moving away from their support system, and/or poor mental or physical health, including addiction. Each relied on adults that could not protect them.
Prevention moves the end goal closer
Anything that makes a child less vulnerable to victimization reduces the instance of child trafficking. Liberating the victims is only part of the international effort to combat child trafficking. Much of the work—and where CtL comes in—emphasizes caring for the survivors and preventative efforts that reduce the number of children that can be exploited. We do this in a few ways: ensuring learning for their growth, employing the law and prosecuting the abusers, and helping the survivors understand the love of the Lord Jesus.
Learn: “educate to eradicate”
It is important to us to help each individual identify goals and complete advanced education. This is a particular focus because education expands their job prospects, security, and independence. Many girls complete university degrees, and others find a trade school specific to their interest. Often, they choose areas of study that will prepare them to help other survivors, like themselves. Aina said, “I want to finish school and immediately begin working to rescue more girls from sexual abuse. I want God to use me to help break this sexual abuse bondage our country is in.”
Law: Increase convictions
Consider the Lily partners with the hard-working local authorities to find a refuge for as many girls as possible and put a stop to their abusers. Encouraging girls to press charges against their offender is an important part of the process. Prosecution ensures the girls are free from their perpetrators and also prevents further victimization of other children.
Love of the Lord: God knows a child’s worth is great
A loving, nurturing home for these victimized children is part of prevention. Girls could be revictimized without a safe home. Shan’s is a story of overcoming devastating abuse and finally learning she is a child of a loving God. She said:
“In 2017 I gave my life to Jesus and was baptized at our Church Family Camp. Today, I am now walking my adventurous, thrilling journey with God. I still struggle with things, but I truly have a hope and an exciting future because God loves me. I know I have a purpose in my life. I get to live my life with my 48 other sisters and my one amazing mom. I’ve learned to trust and love other people, again. I have a reason to go and stay strong, and be faithful to God. Jesus has won the battle for me!”
These girls actively put their hope in Jesus and let go of worry. They have faith that the work they are doing will lead them to a better tomorrow.
Ally from afar: Supporting local agencies’ efforts in the Philippines
No matter where we are in the world, we can support the safe and positive growth of survivors in the Consider the Lily homes. To further fight for their human rights we can:
Stay informed about the global problem of human trafficking;
Be a conscientious & informed consumers, so our purchases support ethical labor;
While it is up to the victim to decide if and when to press charges against her perpetrator, we can help increase convictions by supporting tougher laws for trafficking violations and child pornography. Though governments and NGOs are actively working to resolve this, current penalties for drug trafficking are more harsh than for human trafficking.
As advocates, we are there to support them in recovery, find justice and convictions, and empower them with the faith and education that they need for their future. Helping victims find hope through Jesus is the core of our work, but preventing the hurt from ever happening is the goal. We believe that the more girls we can heal through Jesus, the more strong, capable allies participate and positively impact their communities. Our hope is that supporting victims while also preventing children from being victimized will lead to the end of trafficking.