Monday, November 23, 2009

Human Trafficking

I've recently returned from four months worth of assignments and people have been asking me what types of stories I was shooting for my NGO clients (Non-Government Organizations). So, why not use the blog to explain.....In August I was in the Philippines working for two different NGOs one for a story revolving around the conflict between the Philippine government and Muslim insurgency groups, Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The other story was a documentation of the Human Trafficking problem.

Human trafficking is big business in the Philippines. Men, women, and girls are trafficked for labor and sexual exploitation to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, South Africa, North America, and Europe. The government and NGOs estimate the number of women trafficked to range from 300,000 to 400,000 and the number of children trafficked range from 60,000 to 100,000.

My client, The Asia Foundation supports halfway houses in the ports of Manila and Davao. The halfway houses provide services to intercepted victims of trafficking, including temporary shelter, repatriation, referral, and telephone hotline counseling.

Among the many people I photographed and interviewed was this young girl who escaped from her "employer". With the help of an information leaflet that she found on a ferry boat (a leaflet distributed by The Asia Foundation), she was able to reach a halfway house where she found food, shelter, counseling and financial assistance, giving her the ability to return to her village.

This is the kind of shoot that keeps me motivated....if I can help The Asia Foundation get the word out , perhaps this program will be able to continue and even expand, and there will be more success stories, like this one.

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