Online child sexual exploitation has strongly increased in the Philippines in recent years with parents even allowing their own children to be victimized in exchange for money.
According to a study conducted by the International Justice Mission in Washington which also helped in tracking down offenders in the Philippines, the concurrent lockdown due to COVID-19 may be worsening the abuses.
In an online launch of the study, U.S. State Department official John Richmond said that in most cases, the parents or close family members of the victims which include babies are traffickers themselves.
The average age of victims is 11 years old, with the youngest less than 1 year old. The study also related that out of 381 victims from 2100 to 2017, 43 children were abused from two months to four years.
The study also said that the scheme often takes place inside Philippine homes with pedophile clients across the U.S, Canada, Europe, and Australia. These clients watch sexual abuses through live streaming platforms.
The rampant online child abuse in the country may also be attributed to the wide use of English, access to internet connection, and international cash transfer systems.
The said study also revealed that Internet Protocol addresses utilized for online child sexual exploitation in the country recorded higher than 50-percent increase from 23,333 in 2014 to 81,732 in 2017.
International Justice Mission Philippine Director Samson Inocencio Jr. appealed for the tech industry to “prioritize detection of all child sexual exploitation materials because of the gravity of harm that repeated sexual exploitation causes victims.”
“There are children who need rescue now, but rescue starts with the timely detection and robust reporting,” Inocencio said.
Department of Justice Undersecretary Emeline Aglipay-Villar likewise called to act as a global community to put an end to online child abuse.
“We need to act as a global community – ending impunity in both source countries like the Philippines and demand countries,” Villar said.