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09 March 2016

Washington, D.C. – The Sisters of Mercy and the Religious of the Good Shepherd Sisters led the Talakayan in observance of International Women’s Day held on 8 March 2016 at the Romulo Hall of the Philippine Embassy.

As the Philippines celebrates March as Women’s Role in History Month, the event also served as the Embassy’s response to the call of this year’s theme to Include Women in the Agenda (Kapakanan ni Juana Isama sa Agenda).

Minister Patrick Chuasoto, in his opening remarks recalled that both the Philippines and the United States are no exception to cases of sex trafficking worldwide.

“The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) notes that every year, thousands of women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad, for exploitation. These women and children are forced to slavery, servitude, prostitution, and other forms of sexual abuse. Our activity tonight is our response to the call and also an occasion to tackle head on an issue that transcends borders and does not exempt any nationality,” the Minister added.

Sr. Angela Reed of the Mercy International, Mercy Global Action at the UN facilitated the discussion through an interactive presentation on the lives of Filipino women trafficked for sexual exploitation.

“Trafficking is not a generic experience. It has its own particular expression in different places,” Sr. Reed said as she went through the sex trafficking paradigms of globalization, economic, migration, human rights, gender, local, and organized crime and corruption.

Sr. Reed’s research work centers on promoting a human rights based life course approach to addressing human trafficking. This approach looks into the life stories and narratives of women trafficked and their circumstances since childhood.

“It was the interplay of the personal story combined with environmental factors. When the two were combined, then vulnerability exists,” Sr. Angela Reed explains the results of her study.

Sr. Reed and her research assistant, Ms. Marietta Latonio, a social worker in the Philippines, published the results of their study in a book entitled, “I have a voice” which features the different stories of Filipino women who experienced sex trafficking.

Ms. Latonio also shared the programs and initiatives of the Good Shepherd house in Cebu as they facilitate activities and provide after care and shelter care for Filipino women who experienced trafficking and abuse.

The Talakayan also included a brief viewing of the paintings of Sr. Venus Marie Pegar of the Congregation of St Francis Xavier, depicting the women featured in the study. It concluded with the singing of the song “The Journey” by Ms. Mely Lenario, a social worker at Good Shepherd house in Cebu.

Sr. Áine O'Connor, the Mercy Global Action Coordinator at the United Nations introduced the panelists.###

09 March 2016

(L-R): Mely Lenario, Sr. Angela Reed, Marietta Latonio and  Sr. Áine O'Connor are the main speakers at the Embassy Talakayan in observance of International Women’s Day on 08 March 2016.