16 Children Rescued from Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
16 children have been rescued from online sexual abuse and exploitation. Most of them experienced the abuse from their own families and relatives. These children are now safe in our shelter, receiving the counselling and support they need to start rebuilding their lives.
We are thankful for local authorities and our partner organization who tirelessly work to have more children rescued. However, this also goes to show how much impact the COVID-19 pandemic has caused to a lot of Filipino families, pushing most of them to their limits. Unfortunately for some, this meant resorting to illegal and exploitative practices just to survive. In 2020, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) of the Philippines saw alarmingly increasing rates of suspicious transaction reports (STR) related to or suspected to be related to child pornography and online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC). Just for the first half of the year, STRs related to child pornography amounted to PHP 113.1 million (USD 2.3 million).
Aside from internet access and the level of proficiency of many Filipinos in the English language, the ease of access to money transferring services such as remittance centers and electronic wallets also contributed to the increase of online sexual exploitation cases. Most of the time, the primary perpetrators of OSAEC are the biological parents (41%), immediate family members or relatives (42%), or adults acquainted with the child or living in the same community as the child.
As horrific as this sounds, it only reiterates the importance of our work in the Philippines, especially in areas considered to be at high-risk for exploitation and human trafficking.
Sources: The Philippine Star and The ASEAN Post
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The prolonged pandemic in the Philippines has created issues that required necessary adjustments, especially for the women and children in The Blessed Project who are still in school and/or have ongoing court cases.
Early in 2019, the slum area where Kara and her family lived caught fire. Kara was homeless so she decided to live with her friends. One of her friends introduced her to a woman who promised to give her a job. Little did she know that the woman would exploit her.
Issa [name changed for privacy and protection] lived in a cemetery with her family. As the eldest, she felt the burden to help provide for the family. She found a job through a woman she met, but before she knew it, she was trapped and unable to free herself from a recurring exploitation.