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Streets Are Safer Today in Manila

Stardust Showbar is no longer open for business. Philippine authorities closed it last week, just three months after IJM helped police rescue 13 young women—including two minors—from this bar where they were being sold for sexual exploitation.

Officials boarded up the bar by nailing a giant sign over the entrance on February 9, 2016. Four of the bar’s employees are standing trial for sex trafficking crimes, and the official order by the Department of Labour states: "We find that the immediate closure of Stardust Showbar for employing minors for prostitution including obscene and lewd acts is warranted.”

The bar is located in downtown Manila on a street lined with entertainment clubs and bars where customers go to purchase sex. It’s the second bar that has closed on this street thanks to the government’s intervention.

IJM assisted with both rescue operations—the operation at the first bar was in April 2015, and that bar was closed in November 2015. The fact that Stardust Showbar closed just three months after the rescue operation in November 2015 reflects the authorities’ increasing commitment to eradicate trafficking. Representatives from the Department of Labour, national law enforcement (NBI-AHTRAD) and local police collaborated and were present for the bar closure.

The bar closure was broadcast on several nightly news shows in the capital city. The message is clear: No matter how prominent the business or seemingly protected the location, violators who traffic and sell minors for exploitation will not be tolerated.

"We see hope every time the Department of Labour and Employment shuts down establishments that have profited from the sale of children’s bodies. Hope for those who had been abused because justice is served and hope for those who may never be abused because of the ripple effects that these closures create,” said Evelyn Pingul, Director of Communications, Mobilization and Advocacy for IJM in the Philippines.

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