Up to two percent of adolescents and young women are subjected to commercialised sexual exploitation (CSE) in The Philippines, an economically poor country which earns considerable revenue from â€œsex touristsâ€. Earlier research, in the 1990s in Metro Manila, described the working conditions of adolescents whose CSE reflected family poverty, their â€œsex workâ€ becoming a major source of income for families they left behind in rural and provincial areas of Luzon. Recent research (up to 2014) indicates that conditions for CSE adolescents have, if anything, worsened. Following the original study, we were able to offer scholarships (with funds from a Canadian charity) which enabled 84 girls to leave sex work, and return to high school. Follow-up 18 years later showed that being able to return to â€˜normalâ€™ life, was successful for at least 61 (73%) of the young women whom we were able to trace. We advocate vigorous efforts to prevent the recruitment and trafficking of adolescents into commercialised sex work, and extend our comments to recent Canadian policy initiatives for CSE adolescents, since our original study was based on a Canada-Philippines comparison.
Keywords: Canada, Philippines, poverty, sex work, adolescents, rehabilitation