CHR prods passage of anti-OSAEC bill amid rising online sexual abuse of minors
MANILA, Philippines — With rising incidents of minors being sexually abused and exploited online, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has asked Congress to urgently pass a measure that would fortify the state’s power to pursue and punish perpetrators.
CHR has lauded the Senate’s approval on the second reading of Senate Bill No. 2209 or the proposed Special Protections against Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) Law since such a move by the upper chamber means that the proposal is inching its way toward final legislation.
If enacted, CHR said, the anti-OSAEC measure would bolster law enforcers’ competence to go after violators, who usually hide their true identities. The proposed law likewise provides sanctions on other stakeholders in the so-called online supply chain — from telecommunications companies to social media platforms — if OSAEC contents are not blocked or removed from their site and not preserved as evidence.
“The proposed anti-OSAEC Act strengthens our law enforcers’ capacity in pursuing perpetrators and lays down additional duties to media platforms and internet service providers to block and remove child sexual abuse or exploitation material within 24 hours from receipt of the notice,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia explained in a statement on Tuesday.
“The bill’s progress is a step towards achieving better protection of our children, especially as technology equally presents threats to them even at home. Trafficking and online exploitation of children constitute grave violations of children’s rights. As such, CHR strongly denounces the exploitation and abuse of children,” she added.
CHR stressed that the bill is important to the current pandemic situation in which stay-at-home policies meant that most activities, including abuse and exploitation of minors, shifted to online platforms.
Last March 2, during the hearing of the Anti-OSAEC Act in the Senate, the Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed receiving over 1.3 million tipline reports in 2020, which concern online sexual abuse and child exploitation.
Prior to that — on the day the world commemorated the anniversary of two optional protocols adopted to the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the UN General Assembly that protects children from armed conflict, exploitation, prostitution, and pornography — a group announced that OSAEC incidents in the Philippines rose by 250 percent in three years.
According to the International Justice Mission (IJM), the estimated number of internet protocol (IP) addresses used for internet-based child sexual exploitation in the country increased from 23,333 in 2014 to 81,723 in 2017.
Reports in 2020 showed that the pandemic has pushed forward the alter movement, where sex workers try to sell sexualized photos or videos of themselves through online sites, particularly Twitter.
While many alter accounts have claimed of posting and selling their nude photos willingly, there have been incidents where minors have been involved — which is a clear violation of Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act.
De Guia said that approving Senate Bill No. 2209 would mean that the country is closer to fulfilling its obligation to protect children, particularly regarding the 2nd Optional Protocol.
“Today, we are reminded of our steadfast commitment to the protection of the most vulnerable members of our society. Our call is for everyone to press on and not shrink from our duties in providing protection for children against exploitation,” she said.
“A holistic approach to combatting child abuse requires both the government and members of society working together to raise awareness and public vigilance to stop the proliferation of child pornography and abuse,” she added.
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