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Sextortion is a form of sexual exploitation where people are extorted with a nude image of themselves they shared on the Internet through sexting (from the words: sex and texting).  They are later coerced into performing sexual acts with the person doing the extorting, and are coerced into performing hard-core pornography.  It is exactly what it sounds like: sexual extortion. It all begins when someone gets their hands on a racy photo of you. It could be that your phone got stolen, or that an ex-boyfriend decides sharing those nude pictures as a fun way to get over you, or that someone broke into your home computer and programmed the webcam to take photos of you without your knowledge.  It is a term used to describe the abuse of power or authority to extract sex or for sexual exploitation. The Urban Dictionary defines it as the use of guilt or knowledge of certain secrecy to force another person into having sex or performing sexual favors. It is loosely defined as the practice of using intimate information (for instance, copies of sexting photos) to elicit more explicit photos or videos, or to coerce the victim into engaging in unwanted sexual acts..

According to lawyer Katrina Legarda, there is no specific laws against sextortion in the Philippines yet, although it may be classified under rape, sexual harassment, acts of lasciviousness or graft and corruption.  It is called differently, but the elements are the same with rape, sexual harassment and acts of lasciviousness. Sextortion is not part of the legal jargon in the country, but it involves the dynamics of power and control, the abuse of authority to extract sex from unwilling women or men, and the abuse of power for purposes of sexual exploitation. The rise of electronic communication via the telephone, Internet and mobile phones also caused the exponential soaring of extortion. Some instances of sextortion happen when a boss asks an employee to have sex in exchange of  a job promotion; or when a teacher requests for sexual favors from a student for a passing grade.

The way to stop sextortion is to sever the bonds of the predator’s control. The Philippine law against sexual harassment criminalizes the activities of these predators. The most important thing is for the offended party to do something about it, such as: 1) Prepare an account that provides details of the harassment; 2) Save all evidence of harassment including text messages and e-mails; 3)  Save and print out offensive comments placed by the offender in public social networks like My Space,  Facebook or Twitter that pertains to the offended party; 4)  Report the activity to the proper authorities. There are several options. One is to report to the administrative authorities, like the school or university president or chancellor or to human resource administrators or senior management for companies; 5)  File a criminal case against the perpetrator and also seek civil remedies like moral damages; 6)  It would be best to seek the services of a good lawyer as to handling these matters.

For those who feel that they were victims of sextortion, they should let the authority know so the offender may be removed from his current job. In some cases, sextortionists may face disbarment or removal of medical license.  But still, the government should come up with clear rules to lessen instances of sextortion, more so, end sextortion in the country.

Summer term is the time for incoming seniors to go on a practicum for their major field of concentration like Business Management, Mass Communications, Political Science, and Psychology  Before these practicumers go out to their assignments, they are given a briefing on sexual harassment by the Office of Sexual Harassment or OASH, of the Office of Student Affairs in UP Cebu. This has been practiced for some time now.  But before the practicum, the students have enrolled in the subject Gender and Society where they learn about concepts and issues about gender and other gender-related matters.

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The Gabii sa Kabilin, spearheaded by the Cultural Heritage Program of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), will be on its 6th year on May 25th.  The destinations have widely expanded, no longer just museums (as was the original concept) but this time it includes art museums and galleries (some of which are private), historical sites which include buildings, houses, bridges, and streets; historical landmarks, churches, shrines, and temples; and monuments and plazas. With this move, it is also timely that the practicum of the Political Science Program of UP Cebu for the first time includes heritage work as part of the students’ exposure to development work.  Under the coordination of laire Jabines, the five students who opted to work with RAFI’s preparations for the GABII SA KABILIN will do research on the areas mentioned above and they will be trained on how to guide a tour,  This will be highligted with their participation in the conduct of the Gabii sa Kabilin.

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