The PURPLE ROSE CAMPAIGN is an international campaign initiated by GABRIELA to raise awareness on the issue of sex trafficking of Filipino women and children: the brutal control exercised over women and children victims; the high incidence of violence and the tremendous self-sacrifice the women undergo to ensure the economic survival of their families in the Philippines. It shall provide a means by which everyone and anyone can express disapproval and opposition against the use of the sex trade and forced labor as a means of propping up the collapsing economy.
The campaign is also a way to express support for the women and people of the Philippines who seek to change the current situation.
WHAT IS SEX TRAFFICKING?
Sex trafficking is a systematic transport of humans across borders within and outside the country for the purpose of trade in sex. This leads to prostitution of victims who are mostly women and children, with or without their knowledge. In most cases, force, intimidation and deception are used on the victims.
The Global Trade in Women
Recruited as underpaid factory workers for sweatshops, sold as brides, coerced into the sex trade, women now comprise the bulk of the global trade in labor. By the end of this year, they will comprise the majority of the world's foreign- born population.
Recently, the news emerged that some 50,000 women from China work under virtual slave conditions in the world's largest sweatshop in the US Trust Territory of Saipan. They make clothes for 18 US manufacturers who reap millions of dollars in profit. Less well known is the reality of women from the Philippines caught in the sex trade in the Marianas, providing leisure activity to tourists and male employees of the garment industry.
The Philippines in the Global Trade
Filipino women's lives are in danger. The increasing dominance of transnational corporate interests, including trade deregulation and market liberalization, has led to the mass displacement of both urban and peasant population in the Philippines. It has also led to the appropriation of land and resources by foreign companies, the worsening of work conditions, and a stripping away of workers' rights.
All these combined has led to increased labor migration, especially for women. As they strive to make a living for their families, many women are pushed into the sex trade and suffer extremely exploitative work conditions, emotional, physical and sexual abuses, and violence including murder.
The Philippines is the world's top exporter of women, shipping 370,000 in 1997 alone. While most of the women are recruited as household or domestic workers, the second largest number end up in the sex trade.
This method of crude accumulation of foreign currency was started by the Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s. Tourism development and the export of "surplus" labor were solutions proposed by the Marcoses. This reliance on the sale of bodies overseas continues to this day, further exacerbated by successive administrations. Some $7Bflow back to the Philippines annually, a billion dollars from the US alone.
Meanwhile, an average of two overseas contract workers return dead to the Philippines daily. That statistic is rising.
WHY A PURPLE ROSE ICON?
For over 30 years, horticulturists the world over, largely in the West, cross-bred and hybridized roses to create the perfect purple rose. It does not occur in nature and is a created thing. It is no different from any other rose, except it has been exoticized and set apart by human will. It is artificial and yet no different from any other rose: looks the same, smells the same, has thorns, leaves, stems, roots. But it was forced to be different.
The purple rose exists not for its own evolutionary purposes but for the pleasure of others.
The same with our women who are forced into becoming a created stereotype (not even a historical stereotype but a deliberately concocted one, to serve the needs of globalization) a thing for other's use. In adapting to that persona, our women suffer immeasurable self denial, as wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, as Filipina women.
Just as the Purple Rose is set apart, isolated and denies, to a certain extent, its self as a rose and its affinity with other roses.
THE PURPLE ROSE PLEDGE
The Purple Rose pledge shall accompany the icon. It is a commitment to fight against sex trafficking of women and children.
Simplicity is the hallmark of successful propaganda. Because of the scale of this campaign, the pledge has to be succinct and clear. It should contain nothing that will require long expositions, arguments and debates. It has to appeal to a wide range of people, both men and women. It has to have mass appeal.