“Helping the victims, and putting the perpetrators behind bars”

Marlyn was abused by sex tourists some 20 years ago. She found refuge at the Preda Child Protection Center and helped get the perpetrators convicted. Today she herself works at Preda and sees great dangers through cyber sex.

A fate with consequences: In the mid-1990s, Filipino street children Marlyn and Pia fell into the clutches of two sex tourists from Germany and the Netherlands in Manila. They found refuge with Father Shay Cullen at the Preda Child Protection Center. In addition to therapy, the girls were also able to help prosecute and convict the fugitive perpetrators – for the first time also in their home country.

The spectacular case provided the impetus for the WDR crime series "Manila" and also for the launch of the Guardian Angels campaign of the Catholic relief organization missio exactly 20 years ago. Marlyn Capio is now 38 and an important member of Preda's staff.

Catholic News Agency (KNA): Ms. Capio, your fate became known more than 20 years ago as the template for the crime scene "Manila". In it, the commissioners Ballauf and Schenk hunted a man who abused children in the Philippines and Germany. How important was this film?

Marlyn Capio (social worker at Preda Child Protection Center): Very important, because that's how many people in Germany first became aware of the whole problem: that there are children – like I was one at the time – who are imprisoned and repeatedly abused in the Philippines and also in other countries, and that the perpetrators far too often get away scot-free. In the Philippines alone, there were and are hundreds of thousands of such fates. And not only there.
CBA: What role does it play that the perpetrators are prosecuted, brought to justice and punished – for the first time also in their home countries? As was the case with your tormentor.
Capio: This is quite crucial! Because every sentence sends a signal to the perpetrators: We can get you – anywhere in the world – and then you will also be consistently punished for your actions. And it is very important for the victims – I can say this from my own experience – to see that the perpetrators are held accountable and that this also acknowledges the injustice that was done to me. To see that there is still justice.
CBA: A pioneer against sex tourism and child prostitution in the Philippines is Father Shay Cullen. You yourself were in therapy at his Preda Child Protection Center, and for the past eleven years you have been active there as a social worker and therapist. How victims are helped here in concrete terms?
Capio: There are many different therapies they can use to overcome their deep wounds and traumas and then lead a somewhat normal life again. And many of them, like me, have decided to help other children themselves and to free them from this vicious circle of destroyed families, sex tourism, abuse and drugs. In addition, she helps children and young people in prisons and, more recently, has taken the fight against cyber sex to a whole new level.
CBA: Can you help all the victims? Or are there also relapses?
Capio: In the eleven years I've worked at Preda, we've been able to really "cure" 95 percent of the victims, I guess. With the other 5 percent, some ended up back on the streets and in the scene, and our street workers try to get them away from there again. Others we no longer have any contact with and do not know what has become of them.
CBA: You brought up the new problem of cyber sex. Is this less bad because the children are not touched and physically abused?
Capio: One might think. And there are even parents who give up their children for this with exactly this argumentation according to the motto: "Better than if they go to the room with some men."But they underestimate the mental cruelty and the terrible consequences for the children's future lives when they have to role play in front of the camera, take their clothes off and do everything possible to excite the users on the net. How are these children supposed to have a normal relationship with their bodies, with sexuality, love and closeness??
CBA: What is the extent of the problem?
Capio: It's hard to say, but it's definitely increasing enormously. Also because it's less risky for child pornography users than if they came here to abuse children on site. And surely there are quite a few men who do both as well. Or be turned on by cybersex to come here and then physically assault the children.
CBA: What can you do about it?
Capio: We at Preda help these victims as well as the others. We also investigate undercover here and try to convict and prosecute the perpetrators. The question is what police, justice and the state would have to do. And there are many problems. First and foremost corruption. Laws can be so strict and good, but if no one obeys them and if people allow themselves to be bribed and bribed, it becomes difficult.
CBA: How important is missio's Schutzengel campaign to your work?
Capio: From the beginning, Aktion Schutzengel has done a lot to bring the ie of sex tourism and child prostitution into the public eye in the first place. And to show what it means for the victims. But also that you can do something – in every way: help the victims and put the perpetrators behind bars. Of course, donations from Germany are also important for our work to this day.
CBA: Finally, a personal question: How did you actually process the whole thing?? Can you lead a "normal family life" today?
Capio: Good question. I think so. I have a good husband – from Germany, by the way – and a son. My family was totally destroyed at that time after my stepfather was the first one to abuse me and my mother did not believe me for a long time. But after the therapies I started dreaming again, especially of a happy family. Of a family of my own, but also of a reconciliation with my mother and the rest of my family. It wasn't easy, but it worked out. And now it is actually my mother who is taking care of my son while I am here in Germany.

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