Human trafficking is a hidden industry that brings in $150 billion in illegal profits every year. In the United States, tens of thousands are trafficked annually—the biggest clients being major hotel chains and foreign diplomats.
The Philippines is one of the largest labor exporters in the world. 6,000 Filipinos—mostly women—leave the country every single day to work, because of mass unemployment and poverty. Tricked by placement agencies, thousands end up living as virtual slaves.
Damayan, a New York-based organization led by Filipina domestic workers, is fighting this underground crisis. Abby Martin speaks to several members of the organization about how this exodus of women has devastated a generation of families, and how they are fighting back.
Buying a Slave – The Hidden World of US/Philippines Trafficking
The Philippines has a long and unfortunate history of colonization and being used by the superpowers of the world. The Filipino people are now suffering the consequences of such a challenging legacy- underdevelopment, high unemployment, and constantly worsening poverty. This legacy has led to an unusual phenomenon- a shocking 10% of the Philippine population must leave the country in order to seek employment in hopes of sending money back to their families. An estimated 6,000 people, mostly women, leave the Philippines daily to seek work.
Most of these migrant workers leave the Philippines for the United States, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Japan where they work in low-wage jobs. In fact, 21 million people are working in forced labor situations worldwide- many of them right under the noses of the average citizen of these countries. Unfortunately, through this process, many of these migrant workers have become victims of human trafficking and have found themselves stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of abuse and neglect.
There are currently 2 million migrant domestic workers working in the United States in industries such as in-home childcare and the hotel service. According to the recent report The Human Trafficking of Domestic Workers in The United States, over 80% of these workers have experienced their pay being withheld or having been paid under minimum wage, 81% live in abusive conditions and 73% work excessive overtime.
Abby Martin interviews Linda Oalican, the executive director of Damayan, the 8,000 member strong New York City based organization created and led by Filipino women domestic workers. Damayan provides much needed legal assistance to migrant workers and human trafficking victims. Abby also speaks with Linda’s daughter, Riya, about the experience of losing her mother at the age of 8, eventually leading to a diagnosis of complex post-traumatic stress disorder years later, as well as other women who have experienced the dark side of migrant employment.
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