Tourism is usually a wonderful thing- exploring the world, discovering new cultures, and making new friends can be life-changing in a very positive way. Unfortunately, there’s a dark side to tourism: the sex trade, also known as sex tourism.
The Philippines is often praised for its beautiful beaches and friendly locals, but it’s also, sadly, a popular destination for these “sex tourists”. One of the most distressing problems caused by this are the young female victims of this trade, who are often left pregnant and abandoned.
One glaring example is that of the Kopino. Short for “Korean-Filipino”, the term doesn’t merely refer to persons of that racial mix, but specifically to the children left behind by their South Korean fathers- without support for them, their mothers, or any sort of future.
In 2011, the number of South Korean tourists to the Philippines was over 920,000. While most of these are regular holidaymakers and business travelers, it’s apparent that many of them have other intentions; they’re men in search of Korean comfort women in a country where far too many women live in poverty and desperation. It is estimated that there are at least 15,000 Kopino children in the Philippines today.
Several Non-Government Organizations have been set up, both in the Philippines, and in South Korea, to help the Kopino children. One example is the Kopino Children Association, Inc., a shelter I set up by a South Korean in Quezon City, Philippines.
Recently, an international petition was sent to Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd asking him to “stop sex tourism” in the Philippines:
Meeting in the historic city of Salzburg, the business leaders appealed to him to turn his anti-corruption drive to ending the evil trade of sex slavery of children and young girls, some as young as 13 and 14 years old.
The continuing reports of the human trafficking of thousands of Filipino children and young girls into a modern form of slavery in sex bars, strip clubs, brothels, beach resorts and cybersex dens are spreading around the world. It is an exploitation that is destroying the lives of these impoverished innocent Filipinos. Too little is being done to stop it as many officials allegedly believe it is okay and donâ€™t enforce the law.