Sex Trafficking in the Philippines:


(Photo by Hannah Reyes Morales/GroundTruth)

In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, displacing more than 4 million people, destroying entire communities and ruining millions of livelihoods. It was the fiercest storm to make landfall at the time, with winds reaching 196 miles per hour. The devastation spiked trafficking of women and children in impoverished areas already prone to the problem. With typhoons, hurricanes and other extreme weather events poised only to become more frequent with climate change, our team reports from the vulnerable island nation of the Philippines on the social aftermath of natural disasters, as part of our series, Living Proof: The Human Toll of Climate Change.

More from this project is coming soon. 

Sex Trafficking in the Philippines:

Hear the podcast & explore the science

Filipina sex worker Jojo and her husband dote on their baby in their home in Angeles City. (Photo by Hannah Reyes Morales/GroundTruth)

This episode was produced in partnership with KCRW’s UnFictional.

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Behind the Science

The Philippines is an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands hugging the Pacific Ocean. An average of 20 typhoons form over the ocean and pummel the Philippines each year. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations organization monitoring climate change and its impacts, noted that “a changing climate leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration, and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events.”

While we can’t say that a specific typhoon, hurricane or drought happened because of climate change, we are finding that human-influenced climate change creates the conditions that make weather events like these more severe– like increased moisture and warmer seas that make typhoons more powerful. Rising seas increase the devastation brought by typhoons – the worst destruction of Typhoon Haiyan was wrought by storm surges up to 17 feet high, and in the Philippines, the seas are estimated to be rising at five times higher than the global average

International organizations have recognized the link between disasters and human trafficking since at least 2006, and the track towards worsening storms is expected to amplify the negative effects of disasters on women.

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