Internet child sex abuse contagion in PH: 8 out of 10 perpetrators related to victims
CEBU CITY—Cases of internet-based child sexual exploitation in the Philippines have tripled in as many years and eight out of every 10 perpetrators were related by blood or affinity to the child victims.
From 43 out of every 10,000 Internet Protocol (IP) addresses being used for child sexual exploitation in 2014, the number has ballooned to 149 in 2017, a study led by the International Justice Mission (IJM) revealed.
The study, entitled “Online Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Philippines: Analysis and Recommendations for Governments, Industry and Civil Society,” also stated that the Philippines is a “global hotspot” for online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC).
The study was unable to measure the prevalence of OSEC—a subset of internet-based child sexual exploitation—due to inconsistencies in the quality of reporting by electronic service providers (ESPs) and because ESPs are not currently detecting live streamed abuse.
Since technology is yet to be developed or deployed by ESPs to detect live streamed abuse, IJM said it is often uncovered only when a foreign law enforcement agency identifies an offender for a different but related offense like possession or sharing of child sexual exploitation materials (CSEM).
The study revealed that 64 percent of Philippine OSEC cases were initiated by referrals from foreign authorities.
“The tech industry should prioritize detection of all child sexual exploitation materials—especially newly created CSEM and live streaming—because of the gravity of harm that repeated sexual exploitation causes victims,” said IJM Philippines Director Samson Inocencio Jr. in a press statement.
“There are children who need rescue now, but rescue starts with timely detection and robust reporting,” he added.
The study examined 90 OSEC cases investigated between 2011 and 2017, involving 381 victims.
Among the 43 victims for whom the exact length of abuse was known, the average length of abuse was two years, ranging from two months to four years.
An analysis of victim profiles further showed that the median age was only 11 years old with the youngest less than one year old.
Another unsettling finding, IJM said, is that 41 percent of victims’ abuse was facilitated by biological parents and 42 percent by other relatives or at least 83 percent by people related to child victims.
Data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) CyberTipline reports showed that the estimated number of IP addresses used for internet-based child sexual exploitation in the Philippines increased from around 23,333 in 2014 to 81,723 in 2017 or a 250 percent spike.
“The results of the study show that OSEC is a growing and heinous crime,” said Philippine Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, who is in-charge of the Philippine Department of Justice’s Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking.
“We need to act as a global community – ending impunity in both source countries like the Philippines and demand countries,” said Aglipay-Villar.
“The Philippine government is committed to sustaining our collaboration with international law enforcement agencies in combatting this threat against our children,” she siad.
Ambassador John Richmond, of the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Office, said the US government has dedicated significant resources toward ending OSEC.
“We are encouraged by the success of our partnership with the Philippines. Together, we are working to ensure traffickers are prosecuted, victims and survivors are protected, and this crime is prevented for future generations,” he said.
The IJM study recommended government legislation expanding ESP reporting requirements to make CyberTipline reports more useful to law enforcement; greater international law enforcement collaboration by placing foreign police liaisons in source countries, among others; and implementing child-protective measures and trauma-informed care from rescue to reintegration.
It also proposed increasing OSEC-dedicated staffing, budget and collaboration among law enforcement agencies; and improving collaboration in information and intelligence-sharing, measurement and data collection, and research on OSEC.
The study was made in partnership with the Philippine government, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), and other stakeholders, under the US-Philippines Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership between the US Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and the government of the Philippines.
In an earlier report in INQUIRER.net, Associated Press quoted Richmond as saying lockdowns imposed to counter COVID-19 “seems to only be increasing these phenomena” of child abuse through the internet.
In most cases, “the traffickers are actually parents or close family members of the kids they are exploiting,” the AP report said, quoting Richmond.
The webcam child porn industry involved pedophiles in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia who pay facilitators in the Philippines to sexually abuse children, even babies, in the privacy of their homes. They watch and help direct the abuses through online streaming services, the AP report said.
The IJM study, according to the AP report, showed that 64 percent of online sex child abuse cases in the Philippines are initiated by foreign authorities mainly because of lack of capability by Philippine law enforcers to detect live streamed abuse.
Edited by TSB
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