Author: Althea, Content writer Headline Diplomat eMagazine
Child pornography is a taboo worldwide, with all laws giving strict penalties for offenders; however, despite this shared detest, the Philippines remains the world’s largest source of online child sexual exploration.
In fact, reports from UNICEF reveal that incidents involving child sexual exploitation have risen around 280% within the year due to the Covid-19 lockdown, leaving children vulnerable at home with immoral partners or guardians.
This short article focuses on the growing child sex exploitation pandemic in the Philippines, revealing the cause, legal intervention, recent developments, and more.
Child Sex Exploitation in the Philippines: a server case deserving our attention
New reports from End.Violence.org estimate that two million children in the Philippines were subjected to online sexual abuse and exploration.
This estimate comes from the fact that 96% of Filipino children on the internet are 12 – 17 years of age, and roughly 20% have been victims of online sexual exportation and abuse in recent years, meaning about two million children are grave instances of sexual abuse and exploration.
The experiences reported by children include grooming, being offered gifts or money for sexual acts, or being threatened or loved ones to engage in sexual acts. Furthermore, the most common social platforms used for child sex exploitation and abuse featured Facebook or Facebook messenger, which accounted for over 90% of cases, followed by Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.
Unfortunately, very few of these incidents were reported to authorities, with most online child sexual exploitation cases reported by foreign law endowments agencies and NGOs.
The recurring problem of Rapid Child Sex Exploitation in the Philippines
Child Sex Exploitation has been a recurring problem in the Philippines, often due to poverty, limited employment opportunities, low economic development in specific communities, large family sizes, inadequate awareness amongst families, and many more.
However, the recent speech on child sexual exploitation is a product of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, which children from public spaces like parks and shopping malls, and also caused mass unemployment amongst Filipino parents.
The high unemployment and lack of public interactions create the breeding ground for child sex exploitation as parents sell explicit photos of their children to pedophiles online for money.
According to a BBC news report, these parents coerce their children into pornography by revealing how their financial misfortune will change if they stand naked or play with specific sex toys in front of the camera. In other words, the guardians see child sexual exploitation as an effective means of escaping poverty.
On the other hand, some children sell intimate photos and videos of themselves online to pay for devices to access online learning at home. In some instances, these images sold for about £2.20 and $20, producing more pressure to sell more pornographic content to combat poverty.
The efforts to tackle Child Sex Exploitation in the Philippines
While child pornography is a prevalent issue in the Philippines, multiple organizations, alongside the government, have joined forces to tackle the problem.
For example, the International Justice Mission (IJM) has dedicated its resources to combat violence against Filipino children since 2001. Its programs had helped in responding to 171 cases of Online Sexual Exportation of Children (OSEC), resulting in the liberation of 571 victims, police apprehension of 229 suspects, and 76 convictions.
Some government implementations to combat OSEC in the Philippines include the Republic Act 10364 (Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012) and Republic Act 9775 (Anti Child-Pornography Act of 2009).
There are also some bills pending in congress that will amend the Anti-Rape Law of 1997 as they focus on raising the minimum age of sexual consent from 23. Some of these bills currently pending include:
- Senate Bill 1252 (Introduced by Sen. Hontiveros)
- House Bill 4050 (Introduced by Rep. Aglipay-Villar)
- House Bill 97 (Introduced by Reps. Brosas and De Jesus)
- House Bill 3299 (Introduced by Rep. Escudero)
- House Bill 4148 (Introduced by Rep. Baguilat)
Additionally, two bills aim to institutionalize the Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program in schools and Barangays, giving youths formal training on topics like fundamental human rights, human trafficking, and protective services for victims.
These bills include:
- House Bill 4890 (Introduced by Reps. Batocabe, Garbin, and Co)
- Senate Bill 992 (Introduced by Sen. Gatchalian)
Eradicating Child Sex Exploitation in the Philippines is difficult since the primary cause is poverty, poor economic, desperation, and more. Hopefully, the actions of governments and other agencies will be sufficient to reduce this crime drastically and rescue victims.
Featured photo by Artem Podrez, Pexels.