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Pope Francis must speak on children’s rights

January 25, 2015 · 

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Pope Francis must speak on children’s rights.Fr.Shay Cullen

Pope Francis in his New years message  gone beyond  pious platitudes and spoken out on the root causes of  human trafficking and slavery and call on all people of good will to be part of the solution. There has to be many more people acting against this evil, he says, as there are working for it, if we to are defeat it.

During his inter-faith meeting with leaders of all the major religions    he called sex slavery a crime against humanity. This has heartened and strengthened all of the people working to end this most cruel for of human bondage. It is a crime rampant here in the Philippines in Angeles,Olongapo Manila and Cebu,Davao cities and other big cities and even beach resorts around the country.

It is a crime that is tolerated and supported by local government by the  continual acts of issuing business permits and licences. It is allowed to flourish by higher government officials. The congress and the administration of President Aquino has not introduced new law and seldom implement laws to rescue victims and to close it down. It is a degradation of human dignity an insult to the Filipino people. It is a business operation that grossly sexually and mentally abuses women and minors as Pope Francis has said. (see his declaration www.preda.org).

Masina  was only 13 years old where she was abused in her own home by the live-in partner of her mother and when she complained and cried for help. Her mother did not believe her and called her a liar and slapped her. She could take it and ran from the house and slept rough in the  Manila Luneta park. There after two hungry days she was approached by  a police officer who threatened to bring to the jail of “vagrancy” .

A women ,named Janice,was hovering near by and hurried  over and pleaded with the policeman not to take her and persuaded him that she was Masina’s auntie and would take care of her now that she was “found”. The policeman agreed and Janice,took Masina for a meal and promised help and a job. Reminding her that she had been saved and that Masina “owed”, her for that and the food she provided. The policeman was not real it was a set up to get power over the child.

Masina was told she would soon be a beautiful working woman. After some weeks of mental conditioning and flattery  Masina became dependent and in debt. Then she was sold for sex every night to different  foreign customers for US$500.

It is only after she was rescued by Preda Foundation Social workers was she was free and tell her story.After several months Masina was strong enough to testify in court against Janice and the foreign bar operator.

When Francis arrives here in the Philippines this New Year,January 15, we hope and pray that he will inspire the hierarchy to take up his call for action to defeat the sex-slavery and human trafficking that  is a bight on humanity and a cause of great human suffering.It is a destroyer of young human lives.

Another most important issue for Pope Francis to speak about is the illegal arrest and detention of young children by police and local government officials and incarcerating them in horrific detention centers. Many children,some as young as 8 years old are held behind bars with older prisoners and many are sexually abused.They suffer trauma and unimaginable stress and anxiety.

In the jails the children suffer continuous multiple violations of their human rights, dignity and decency. We at Preda Foundation know first hand because we have rescued many children from these detention centers. and give them a new life.

One of the many victims Pope Francis will likely not hear about is his namesake,Francisco. A 12 year-old boy who was photographed lying on the concrete ground in the open yard. He was put on public display,naked,skeletal and wounded and left to die ,so it appeared to witnesses. This was in the Manila City child detention center known as the Reception and Action Center (RAC).Many other children suffer sever neglect and wounds and some have allegedly died.

He was not alone either. Then there is another case Angel, a 13 year old little girl,clad only in a flimsy dress she was chained to a post and left there crying while the other children were allegedly encouraged to throw pebbles at her as she screamed in pain,fear and anguish. The photo will be soon be posted. on Preda Foundation Facebook and  www.preda.org

Priests, pastors and social workers and lawyers are banned from the facility for speaking out against the abuse. The children have no one to  turn to. The banning is to prevent further revelations and gathering of evidence from the children themselves as to the alleged crimes of neglect and abuse and the sub-human conditions in the RAC. Allegedly most of the budget seems to disappear and the managers then say the is no money to feed the children.They however are fat and healthy.

The national government ought to place all the children in other facilities under the protection and care of the national office of “Dinky” Soliman Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.(DSWD).They must have a recovery programme and professional standards for the managers and social workers.

We are all challenged to do good and help end this evil.To do nothing allows it to continue and the appeals of Pope Francis ,the Pope of the poor,for us people of all faiths and none at all to unite and fight the social evil or his efforts will be in vain. shaycullen@preda.org

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