Human Trafficking – FULL V5 from Jeth Weinrich on Vimeo.

Katie Ford is the CEO of the Katie Ford Foundation. Formerly the Global Ambassador for Free the Slaves and the CEO of Ford Models, Inc., Ford is an influential activist in the anti-slavery movement. Here, she writes about the anti-slavery PSA the Katie Ford Foundation produced for the Philippines. The PSA begins: “So many people dream of working abroad, to secure a better future for themselves, and their families.”

A still from the anti-slavery PSA produced by the Katie Ford Foundation

Partnering with Ford Model’s Super Model of the World talent search, the Katie Ford Foundation develops campaigns to raise awareness about human trafficking. So far such campaigns have taken place in Montenegro, Ireland, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The campaigns vary from country to country. However, in addition to providing information about Free the Slaves, we always partner with a local anti-trafficking organization that has a trafficking hotline. This partnership raises awareness of the local organization’s efforts and resources, and strengthens the campaign by presenting the chosen country’s specific issues.

As an outcome of the original 2009 campaign, the initiative in the Philippines has expanded into a yearlong awareness project, launching in 2011. The foundation produced this film to be shown in malls, on television, and in presentations during the 2011 Spring Filipino Fashion Week; and during Visayan Forum’s 2011 Commitment Week. The film aims to raise awareness among the general public about human trafficking, and also to raise awareness about the help that Visayan Forum can provide.

This film was created in partnership with Visayan Forum, Ford Super Model of the World, Asian modeling agency Calcarrie’s and The U.S. State Department. The PSA was directed by Jeth Weinrich of RedWorld Media. See other versions of this PSA here.

Links: Slavery in the News

  • Global Nations Inquirer: Indie film tackles human trafficking to Sabah: “The issue on human trafficking is like a song whose lyrics and melody everyone knows but which still remains unsung. Unknown to most city dwellers, even in the Philippines, human trafficking is very much rampant.” Independent fiction film “Halaw: Ways of the Sea” follows Filipino migrant workers as they illegally cross the border into Malaysia in search of work. The stories are based on real case studies of human trafficking survivors.
  • Detroit Free Press: Miss Michigan to Run Marathon to Raise Awareness About Slavery: “‘Every year nearly 20,000 men, women and children are dehumanized and forced into barbaric situations,’ [Miss Michigan Katie Lynne] LaRoche said in a statement. ‘I want to use the Miss Michigan platform to draw attention to this horrific crime.’”
  • Contra Costa TimesTwo men held in teen prostitution scheme in Northern California: Two men were arrested “on suspicion of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, possessing methamphetamine, possession of obscene material, unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, solicitation of prostitution, pandering for prostitution, human trafficking of a subject under 18, and lewd and lascivious acts with a child.”
  • News on 6: Oklahoma woman shares tory of teen years as sex trafficking victim: “[Barbara] Maphet, 35, said she was a teenager at an Oklahoma City-area high school when she became a sex trafficking victim. At the time she was 17, homeless and addicted to drugs. That’s when someone suggested she get a job with two men who were looking to hire a professional card dealer. So, she met the men at an apartment complex in west Oklahoma City…”

The New York Times recently published a profile on boxing champion and newly-minted Philippine congressman, Manny Pacquiao. Back in August, we wrote about Mr. Pacquiao’s dedication to eradicating modern day slavery. He gave a stirring speech at an anti-trafficking event, where he declared “an all-out war against human trafficking.”

Nowadays, his earnings are in the millions, but Pacquiao comes from one of the poorest slums in one of the poorest areas of the Philippines. And his congressional seat was not smoothly won. He had a failed attempt back in 2007, before winning enough votes this year. He had to beat out a man who occupied the political seat for three decades.

To the NYT, Pacquiao said, “I want to help people, especially in my province… When I’m old, I want my name, Manny Pacquiao, to be known not only as a good boxer but a good public servant.”

Recently, human trafficking seems to be becoming an important issue in Philippine politics. The country is currently on the Tier 2 Watch List in the Trafficking in Persons Report. If they slip into Tier 3, they may lose millions of dollars in foreign aid from the U.S.

In august, Pacquiao called for funds to be allocated to the National Bureau of Investigation and the government Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), the government agency combatting slavery. The current budget for the IACAT, he announced was zero.

Today, Philippine President Benigno Aquino told GMA News that the government is beginning to take a tougher stance on human trafficking.

Here is the NYT profile on Congressman Manny Pacquiao, by Norimitus Onishi:

MANNY PACQUIAO’S black Hummer was nowhere in sight. The parade that he was supposed to lead had already wound down in front of the town hall here. His seat, the seat of honor, stood vacant on a stage on which singers, three beauty queens and the province’s ruling political class sat waiting.

Mr. Pacquiao, possibly the best boxer in the world and a new congressman in the Philippines, had awakened at home a little earlier, still jet-lagged from a trip to the United States, where he had been promoting his next fight. He was the main financial sponsor of the annual “foundation day” festival here in Alabel, the capital of Sarangani, the southern province that was carved out of another in 1992 and that he now represents in the House of Representatives.

Perhaps more than anywhere else in the Philippines, feudal-like dynasties dominate hereon the impoverished, violence-ridden island of Mindanao. But by brandishing his vast wealth, Mr. Pacquiao — who came out of one of this area’s poorest slums, finished only elementary school and often appears uncomfortable speaking English — defeated a member of the clan that founded Sarangani and that had held the congressional seat for three decades.

Outwardly, the establishment has welcomed Mr. Pacquiao, 31, since he was sworn in as Sarangani’s only congressman less than three months ago.


Philippine Justice Secretary Leila De Lima

The Philippine government rescued 268 victims of human trafficking Wednesday night. Justice Secretary Leila De Lima made the announcement at a press conference this morning, Philippine news network GMA reported today.

The raids were conducted with the cooperation of the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation and the government Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).

The 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report put out by the U.S. State Department last June put the Philippines on the Tier 2 Watch List. Countries that slip to Tier 3 are subject to sanctions, and may lose all U.S. aid.

Following the report, Justice Secretary De Lima called on IACAT to immediately act to resolve all pending human trafficking cases. In August, boxing champion-turned-Congressman Manny Pacquiao argued for funds to be allocated to IACAT because, he said, its current budget was zero.

Manny Pacquiao Against Slavery

As Congressman of the Sarangani province in the Philippines, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao seems to be making the eradication of slavery and human trafficking a high priority. In July, about a month after being sworn into the House of Representatives, Pacquiao spoke at an anti-human trafficking event in Manila, “gamely posing for the media wearing red boxing gloves,” (as one report put it) and declaring “an all-out war against human trafficking.”

The latest news? There is zero budget in the government anti-human trafficking agency. And, Representative Pacquiao is fighting for funds. The Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) was created after the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. But, without funds, its power to prevent slavery is—as Pacquiao says—weak “against the more powerful and well-heeled human trafficking syndicates”

Pacquiao also said that Philippine law should be changed to allow disclosure of the identities of suspected traffickers, saying “It’s so unfair. It’s alright if we don’t divulge the real name of the victims, but not of the traffickers. How can our countrymen know who to avoid if the traffickers are protected by law?”

Currently, the Philippines is a Tier 2 country in the Trafficking in Persons Report, put out annually by the US State Department. Once a country falls to Tier 3, they can be ineligible to receive US foreign aid. Read the 2010 TIP report here.

In 2008, Free the Slaves gave the William Wilberforce Freedom Award to Amihan Abueva, founder of the Philippine-based anti-slavery organization ECPAT. ECPAT was created in 1991 to end sexual exploitation of children. They have a presence in more than 70 countries, and has helped the passage of a number of Philippine laws to punish perpetrators and protect survivors. They have collaborated with the global tourisn industry to prevent child sex tourism. Read more about Amihan and ECPAT here.