Monday, December 18, 2017
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  • Bidlisiw Foundation, Inc.


    Withdrawing and Preventing Children and Young People From Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation in a Post-Disaster (Yolanda) Area
    To combat trafficking-in-persons in a post-calamity area through provision of education, healing, recovery, and reintegration services for trafficking survivors and their families
    11 Municipalities in Northern Iloilo: Ajuy, Batad, Dumangas, Culasi, Concepcion, Estancia, Carles, Tagbak, Barotac, Sara, Balasan
    1,000 vulnerable children, young adults and their families, 60 seaport/bus personnel, 128 parents, and
    22 community volunteers
    2 years

    On Nov. 8, 2013, Super Typhoon Yolanda (internationally named Haiyan) struck the Visayas region of the Philippines, one of the strongest typhoons to make landfall in recorded history. Typhoon Yolanda caused close to 6,000 deaths and displaced over 4 million people. The vast economic and social damage of Yolanda heightened the vulnerabilities of affected communities to trafficking, especially children. The Department of Social Welfare and Development reported increased cases of unaccompanied and separated children in Yolanda-stricken areas, resulting in increased vulnerabilities to trafficking.

    USAID, through the Philippine-American Fund, is working with Bidlisiw Foundation, Inc. (BFI) to combat trafficking in persons in a post-calamity area through provision of education, healing, recovery, and reintegration services for trafficking survivors and their families.

    BFI works with local partners to combat trafficking in select municipalities of Northern Iloilo, one of the areas hardest hit by Yolanda.

    BFI combats trafficking through three types of counselling support, which are delivered in different phases. Initially, they organize a two-day informal, small group discussions or what they call “hangout sessions” to inform kids and young adults at risk. During these sessions, they also document actual trafficking and even just threats. Based from the results of their documentation, they then enroll identified survivors to a four-month intensive psycho-social counselling program. A year-long holistic counseling support is extended to these survivors whose families are strongly committed to end the abuse. They also provide long-term support to families which include educational aid and livelihood assistance.  

    As of March 2017, 994 individuals in high-risk communities completed BFI’s counter-trafficking orientation sessions. Of those sensitized, 384 (68 percent women) were documented to have experienced trafficking, and an alarming 86 percent of whom were minors. BFI currently provides long-term support to 140 families of trafficking survivors and intensive psycho-social counselling to an initial group of 109 survivors. They have withdrawn 15 survivors from commercial sexual exploitation even before the completion of counselling support.   
    Breaking the cycle of trafficking and abuse is extremely challenging. BFI discovered that parental neglect, early and extended exposure to trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, peer pressure, the need for extra household income to respond to shocks/emergencies are just a few of the factors that increase the chances of re-victimization. BFI reported the high incidence of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation with local authorities. However, the low number of law enforcers dedicated to trafficking cases and the lack of extended judicial process in the area, constrain prosecution efforts.