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2015 (Narrative date)

In the Philippines, women and children are subjected to sexual exploitation in brothels, bars, and massage parlours, online, as well as in the production of pornography. The Philippines is an international hub for prostitution and commercial sex tourism – a highly profitable businesses for organised criminal syndicates. The demand for sex with children among both local and foreign men has continued to fuel child sex tourism. Rising internet usage rates, the availability of mobile phones and poverty has fostered online child sexual exploitation. Aleta’s story highlights how children who face abuse at home are particularly vulnerable to enslavement and sexual exploitation.

My name is Aleta. From the time I was born I labelled myself as a disgrace because I was born as a result of my parent’s extramarital affair. My father did not want me to be born and when I was born he denied that I was his daughter. When I first learnt of this my heart was so heavy as if a bomb had been dropped. My mother wanted to keep me but after a few months she was forced to leave me in the care of relatives. The two women who cared for me I considered my parents. They were lesbians and they loved me as if I was their own child. We lived in the rural area of Cebu.

When I was five, my parents sent me on an errand to the neighbours’ house. The neighbours had two boys and when I went into their house they took off my dress and they raped me. When they were doing it I just stared at them and I didn’t say anything. I was motionless and when I came home, all I can recall is I had blood in my panties. I did not tell anyone of that incident.

Soon after, we relocated to Cebu City and I attended school. My behaviour at school and home was very bad. I was very rebellious and I became a problem for my parents. During that time I got to know a distant cousin who we depended on a lot for income. She would come home at 3am and bring me lots of junk food. I never knew at that time that she was a prostitute. My parents and I lived with her and her live-in partner and their baby, who I looked after.

One time, I was putting the baby to sleep and the husband of my cousin came into the room. I was so shocked to see him there. He told me to be silent and he raped me. After, he insisted I tell no one. After that rape incident I could not look that man in the eye, I felt ashamed.

The family of that man depended on my cousin’s income for their living. They quarrelled. One time I interrupted, saying, “You should be the one working, not my ate [a term used to describe a respected older woman],” so he grabbed my head and pushed it into the ground and physically abused me.

At nine years old I was being nagged at by my parents and my cousin who accused me of bad things so I just ran away, which led me to being trafficked.

If I could relive my childhood I would have a very simple wish. First I would want to get the attention of my mother and have better communication. Those times when we had no contact would be patched up with love and care between mother and daughter. The second wish would be to play. I had no time to play and I would like to have had plenty of toys.

As told to Our Community