A scourge worse than terrorism


(Remarks by H.E. Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. at the side event “Using the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the SDGs to End the Scourge of Trafficking in Women and Girls” at the United Nations on June 21, 2017)

To establish my credentials to speak here, let me say that I have worked for three presidents and the best were women: one liberated our country and the other saved it in the Wall Street global financial crisis.

Since 9/11, civilized societies have been able to counter terrorism with more or less success—but with never-wavering, never-stinting effort. Everything has been thrown at the problem of terrorism. This is what we don’t understand. Why have the same efforts not been exerted, the same dedication not been demonstrated, the same relentless, searching and ruthless measures taken to combat human trafficking especially of women and girls who undergo the ultimate terrorism of sexual slavery. Worse than death is prolonged degradation: the use of the human person as a thing to be used and disposed of.

One suspects that the comparative feebleness of efforts to combat human trafficking is because civilized society battens on human trafficking especially of women and girls, and draws pleasure from the awful, unspeakable and inexcusable victimization that human trafficking consists of. It is worse than ancient slavery because it is inflicted at a time when everyone knows her human dignity, so that to physical abuse is added degradation.

Until we take human trafficking as seriously as the threat to all our lives that terrorism poses—and not just to the victims of human trafficking—efforts to stop it will be half-hearted as they have been.

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a step forward but it is just a step. For the Philippines, our commitment in this fight against a scourge worse than terrorism is manifest in our tabling of the resolution, “Trafficking in Women and Girls” since 1994. The resolution recognizes the importance of global partnership in this endeavor—not least because the victims come from all over the world, and the class of those who take pleasure in their plight is equally universal, and male.

The resolution welcomes the New York Declaration on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, which puts them at greater risk of being trafficked and enslaved.  To say that more must be done, understates the gravity of the situation.

Governments must ensure coherence between their laws on, and measures supposedly responsive to the abuse of migrants, so that laws are not used to allow abuses—as is often the case with immigration rules. Malice never lacks for inventiveness to circumvent the moral imperative of decency toward the poor and weak.

In September, when we take stock of the implementation of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, we must consider these developments in charting our path forward toward the eradication of this scourge.

Compared to counter-terrorism, too little has been done, with the same unequivocal commitment, near limitless expense and ingenuity to combat and eradicate human trafficking—which is the ultimate terrorism. It is the terrorism of the targeted weak, who are in the special care and protection of humankind.


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