Church groups note rise of sex sites that peddle kids
The exploitation of children for the online sex trade remains on the rise in the country, where most of the perpetrators are the minors’ own family members, an interfaith group noted with alarm.
Latest data showed that the average age of victims in the Philippines was 12 years old, while the youngest victim on record was barely two months old, according to the Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking (Pimaht)
“We raise our concern over the alarming rise in the number of cases of … a phenomenon called Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (Osec),” the group said in a statement read on Tuesday by Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
What makes the situation worse is that in most Osec cases, the perpetrators were found to be parents or relatives of the parents, the statement said.
According to the group, authorities have carried out 109 rescue operations involving 389 Osec victims since 2013. A total of 165 suspects have been arrested, of whom 42 were later convicted, Pimaht said.
Osec cases were found most prevalent in Dasmariñas City in Cavite, Angeles City in Pampanga, Iligan City in Lanao del Norte, and Cebu City in Cebu.
The majority of the cases involved female victims, although cases involving boys have been increasing.
“We view that the economic deprivation and deplorable conditions of poor families forced the parents or relatives to engage their children in this gruesome activity. Most of them are children of jobless parents, displaced urban poor people, or peasants in the provinces,” the group added. —Tina G. Santos
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