A Roman Catholic priest has led men, women and children in the Philippines to rally against sex trafficking and child abuse. Fr Shay Cullen urged the country's government to deliver justice for victims of sexual abuse.
The campaigners marked the International Day Against Prostitution yesterday (7 October 2010) by demonstrating outside the Olongapo City Hall of Justice.
Their banners called for an end to the “dirty tricks”, which they say are used by some unethical prosecutors to dismiss cases of trafficking and sexual abuse.
Cullen, who addressed the rally, is the founder of the Preda Foundation, a children's rights organisation. He was joined by various NGOs and women's rights groups.
"What we need are prosecutors of dedication and integrity who will deliver justice in every case,” said Cullen.
He urged public support for the “reforming work” of the new Secretary of Justice, Leila De Lima. He referred to the case of Charice (not her real name), a 12-year-old girl who was rescued by her mother, social workers and police. Medical legal examination showed signs of sexual abuse.
He insisted that, “We cannot allow politicians to manipulate the justice system when they are accused and charged with crimes of trafficking of persons and child abuse”.
Cullen has risen to international prominence in recent months due to his outspoken criticisms of the cover-ups of child abuse within the Catholic Church.
He was interviewed an praised by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell for his recent Channel 4 TV documentary about Pope Benedict in the run-up to the pontiff's British visit.
Comment columns by Fr Cullen have appeared on Ekklesia for nearly two years. They can be accessed here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/search/node/shay%20cullen