Filipina's mission brings her to Germantown
Dr. Marita De Guzman Viloria is a missionary and environmental advocate. For more than two decades, she has dedicated her life to eradicating human trafficking and violence against women and girls, men and boys in her native country of the Philippines.
Viloria recently visited Wayne Hall, a women’s shelter in Germantown to research the viability of establishing an exchange program to offer new life opportunities for the young women she rescues from slavery, prostitution and violence.
In January, Viloria spent approximately a week in meetings and residency as a special guest of Wayne Hall, located at 5200 Wayne Ave. Wayne Hall is a women’s ministry of Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission and is a safe shelter for homeless women with children. While in residency at Wayne Hall, women learn how to restructure their lives via to the Word of God. Rita Whitaker is the facility’s director.
Viloria, 51, is executive director of Kalinga Ministry, in Baguio City, Philippines.
“I’m actually visiting Rita Whitaker,” she said. “I met her in the Philippines when she came for a missions visit [in 2012]. I’m visiting her because I wanted to see [her] program...to see how they actually run the program, because of our vision to have a home for mothers and children in the Philippines, a similar setting.”
Viloria’s visit to the U.S. was part of a multi-purpose agenda. Prior to visiting Wayne Hall, she represented the Philippines at an international leadership colloquium in New York City, Jan. 14-18.
According to Humantrafficking.org, “The Philippines is a source and, to a much lesser extent, a destination and transit country for men, women, and children who are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.”
“In the Philippines, traffickers, in partnership with organized crime syndicates and complicit law enforcement officers, regularly operate through fraudulent recruitment agencies and practices to traffic migrants. Traffickers use local recruiters sent to villages and urban neighborhoods to recruit family and friends, often masquerading as representatives of government-registered employment agencies. These fraudulent recruitment practices and the institutionalized practice of paying recruitment fees often leave workers vulnerable to forced labor, debt bondage, and commercial sexual exploitation.”
Viloria said, “human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world. And in the Philippines, we have, we don’t have an exact number, but it’s a high case of trafficking and prostitution. Give or take, about more than a 100,000 children, prostituted children, [are] in Manila alone.”
She said the youngest prostitutes documented in the Philippines, “was only 3 or 4 years old.”
Viloria said that children peddling flowers in Manila are routinely preyed on and victimized by traffickers and pedophiles.
In Baguio City, where Viloria serves, “we have thousands and thousands of women, maybe more than 5,000 women in prostitution.”
The U.S. Embassy in Manila report that, “a significant number of Filipino women working in domestic service in foreign countries also face rape, physical violence, and sexual abuse. Skilled Filipino migrant workers, such as engineers and nurses, are also subjected to conditions of forced labor abroad. Women were subjected to sex trafficking in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, and Japan and in various Middle Eastern countries. For example, from January to March 2012, the government repatriated 514 Filipina domestic workers from Syria; more than 90 percent were identified as trafficking victims who had suffered physical, psychological, and verbal abuse from employers in Syria.”
Viloria’s Kalinga Ministry facilitates exit strategies and community re-entry and reintegration for prostituted and trafficked children and women in the Philippines. She accomplishes this great work via advocacy, human rights protection, education, values formation, skills training, and retooling towards positive alternative sources of financial livelihood that promote decent work and personal well-being.
Prior to her international ministry service, in her early years, Viloria worked with disenfranchised communities in the United States.
Viloria attended Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., earning a Master of Arts degree in Inter Cultural Studies in 1989, a Master in Divinity in 1995, and a doctorate in Missions in 1999. Viloria represents Kalinga Ministry in annual advocacy meetings and lobbying work at the United Nations.
A-List celebrities like Jada Pinkett-Smith and Mira Sorvino are staunch advocates who are waging war against human trafficking and giving spotlight to this growing international crime. Human trafficking is quietly impacting the lives of young women in America.
According to a June, 2012, USAToday.com news article, Pinket-Smith said, “I was actually really quite ashamed that I didn't know about this particular situation in our country, because when you think about human trafficking, you think about it 'over there.' Wherever 'there' is," That guilt is fueling Pickett-Smith’s activism in creating a global platform to eradicating human trafficking.