Tonight on Dateline Amos Roberts travels to the Philippines where he meets some of the people helping victims of sexual trafficking and goes undercover on a raid, which could result in saving up to 70 prostituted children.
UNICEF estimates that there are 1.2 million children lured into the sex trade each year, and up to 100,000 of those are in the Philippines.
Prostitution is illegal in the Philippines and sex workers under the age of 18 are automatically considered trafficking victims and their pimps can be jailed for life.
Sixteen years ago, former Queensland electrician Tony Kirwan changed his life when he set up Destiny Rescue, an international NGO that investigates, rescues and rehabilitates children that have been trafficked into the sex trade.
“I felt awkward even walking into a brothel, like I felt like ‘should I even be in here, like this feels wrong’”, explains devout Christian Kirwan.
“But at the same time knowing that if I don’t go in then the kids that are in there are never going to have a chance of getting out.”
Joining Tony and his team, Amos immerses himself in a world of sleaze and exploitation, as they gather evidence to give to the local police.
The under-resourced local police are grateful for any help, even from a crew of Australians with no background in law enforcement.
Amos also talks to Marlyn Capio-Richter who is the centre manager of PREDA Foundation, a Catholic charity that rescues and rehabilitates victims of sexual abuse and trafficking.
Marlyn ran away from home when she was 13 to escape her abusive stepfather. Living on the street, vulnerable to exploitation, she was sold into prostitution.
“I became submissive. And I had nothing to lose, because I am already sexually abused by my stepfather. If this is the will of God, then let it be. So I work as a prostituted child and I follow the order of my boss in order for me to survive.”
Now, Marlyn uses her own experiences to help young girls aged between 7-18, as they undergo intensive therapy to deal with their experiences.
Rehabilitation doesn’t always work and some trafficking victims will return to prostitution.
Those on the frontline of this struggle, like Marlyn and Tony, know the odds are stacked against them.
But if they don’t help these children, who will?
9.30pm tonight on SBS.