ECPAT
Boys do cry on the inside: young victims open up about sexual exploitation

“It’s such a shame to admit but it was just really all for the money,” 16-year-old Patrick disclosed to ECPAT’s social worker in an interview. He was one of the 30 boy victims of a foreign sex offender. “I hated it but I was able to buy food for me and my friends,” he added. The boys live in an impoverished barangay belonging to a red-light district.

 

Their community is a preferred hideout of wanted criminals and other lawless elements. Many foreigners have chosen to live here because of the cheap rent and low cost of living. Some have already bought lands, built houses, and established businesses in the locality. One of them was alias “Tommy”, a British national who lived in their Barangay for 10 years.


Little did the residents know that Tommy was wanted for sexually exploiting children in his homeland. In a span of 2 years, he did the same to Patrick and other boys in the neighborhood. He invited the children to his house and asked them to invite more friends. He enticed them with small things such as 150 pesos per visit, chocolates, briefs, a pair of slippers, to more expensive stuff such s a pair of sneakers, bicycle, mp3 player or cell phone. At times, it could be a treat to the mall where they dined and watched movies. In exchange, Tommy sexually abused the children and took nude photos of them.


Tommy was recently convicted of his crimes - but the boys have continued to live with the horrors of what happened. Many of them got sexually transmitted infections. And while this could be treated in a matter of months, the psychological trauma may take a while longer.

 

“I was treated like a pig,” said one of the boys, in a seemingly angry but regretful tone. “Sometimes, I just stare into space, trying but failing to forget what happened,” another boy shared. “I’ve been often fearful and angry,” another one added. “He (Tommy) had a gun on his table all the time. I was afraid he’d shot me dead if I refused his advances,” he recounted. “There are times when I just feel like I’m about to go insane.”

 

The boys have become the constant butt of insults in school since the news spread. They are being called pok-pok, a coined word for prostitute. “I don’t want to go out of the house anymore so I can avoid the endless bullying,” said Patrick. “If only people would stop talking about it and just help us move on,” he hoped.

 

To help the boys heal and recover, ECPAT has conducted psychosocial activities which allowed them to express their pent-up emotions through recreational activities such acting, drawing and playing. “I am hesitant to talk about what happened but I think these activities help us to be heard,” one participant commented. “I liked the activities because I am learning a lot about how I should protect myself from abuse. I am looking forward to learning more,” said another child.


Many of the boys are in need of support for their educational, psychosocial and medical expenses. Your donations will help them heal and recover.