Traffickers Switch to Online Exploitation Amidst Pandemic
“As schools are closed and majority of people stay in their homes due to the threat of COVID-19, the incidence of livestreams of child sex abuse has increased,” says a report from a local news channel in the Philippines.
Even traffickers are forced to stay home during the lockdown, and thus, are employing other ways to continue exploiting vulnerable targets.
John Tanagho, field office director of International Justice Mission in the Philippines, said that traffickers connect with sex offenders, mostly from Western countries. Offenders pay traffickers to feed live videos of abuse being done to children as instructed.
In another report, Child Rights Network, an alliance of organizations and agencies in the Philippines pushing for children’s rights legislation, calls for authorities to employ more proactive measures to protect children from all forms of abuse, both online and offline. Tanagho has also pleaded with administrators of online platforms to be more vigilant and regulate materials on their channels to prevent further spread of pornographic content.
With this increase in cybersex crime incidents, and the increase of poverty, it is evident how important our work is to protect the vulnerable. We are thankful for our in-country partner, Honor 1000 Movement, for leading this work in public schools in the Philippines. We know that when this pandemic is over, we will be ready as schools open and the new academic year starts, to continue the fight against cybersex crime in the Philippines.
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Sources: Hernando-Malipot, M. (2 April 2020). Report incidents of child rights violations, advocates urge. Manila Bulletin. (11 April 2020). Increase in child sex abuse livestreams observed during COVID-19 lockdowns. GMA News Online.
Microfinance Women and Staff Supporting Each Other
Because of the pandemic, most of the Philippines has been placed on lockdown since last year. This has challenged our program to adapt and comply with the health protocols that each municipality has set. We are grateful to have a dedicated team who diligently visits each area and client.
After several months of another strict lockdown in Manila, public schools are getting ready once again for module distribution. This allows us to reach out to more students despite schools being closed.
As young as 9 years old, Elaine (name changed for privacy) was pimped by her mom to customers along the street, and at 10 years old, Elaine started working in bars. She was finally rescued a year after and is now safe in shelter.
The journey to sustainability varies for each of the client moms of Honor 1000's Microfinance Program. There are various factors and conditions contributing to this, but one thing remains unchanged and that is the support provided to these moms.
The fight against OSAEC (online sexual abuse and exploitation of children) and human trafficking may be complex and long. But the increased involvement of leaders and advocates encourages us to continue pushing forward.