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Carmelita Nuqui

2017 Fellow

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The Philippines

“We were losing hope with our own government. We had been telling them about trafficking and they would get angry with us. When they did not listen, we decided to work with the Japanese government. We wanted to ask why they could possibly need 80,000 singers and dancers.”

Carmelita Nuqui works with Filipino women who are trafficked and exploited. Back in the1970s, the Philippines began certifying women as singers or dancers, which qualified them for “entertainer visas” from Japan. The visas facilitated forced prostitution on a massive scale. Carmelita started DAWN in 1996 to advocate for survivors’ rights and offer holistic support.

She lobbied Japanese officials and got them to change their visa criteria, which led to a stark drop in the number of Filipino women being trafficked to Japan. Carmelita still works with the Japanese to recover trafficked women. She provides temporary shelter, legal assistance and livelihood programs that help women regain confidence and dignity.