COVID-19 and the Online Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Philippines
The coronavirus pandemic has forced many societies to lock down and shelter in place. As a matter of public policy to curb the fast spread of COVID-19, countries have quickly closed their borders. These travel restriction mandates mean that child sex tourism has been halted or, at the very least, minimized. However, as a direct response to the pandemic, online sexual exploitation of children has dramatically surged.
A study conducted by the International Justice Mission (IJM) has focused on the Southeast Asian Nation region (ASEAN) since it is identified as one of the top child exploitation destinations for foreign and domestic paedophiles and offenders to abuse and exploit children in person sexually. Paired with advanced technology, offenders can use mobile and online tools in their crimes against children, whether it be by recording or sharing videos of the abuse or viewing it with relative anonymity.
The report released by the International Justice Mission (IJM) showed that internet-based child sexual abuse in the Philippines, precisely the demand for live streams of online sexual exploitation of children, is primarily consumed by foreign sex offenders. These offenders took advantage of the pandemic to proliferate their abuse with the help of local traffickers who have access to vulnerable children.
Who Are The Typical Online Sexual Exploitation of Children Traffickers?
Data collected by numerous government and non-profit organizations can pinpoint that traffickers of the online sexual exploitation of children are most often committed by financially motivated adult female relatives or close associates of children. This harrowing data suggests that most of these traffickers are often the children’s caretakers or mothers.
Who Are The Typical Consumer of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children?
Studies conducted by domestic and foreign law enforcement agencies and organizations have identified foreign paedophiles are the most common consumer of online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines. Unfortunately, online sexual exploitation of children is a global crime and has been detected across every country.
How Can Government Respond To These Horrific Online Sexual Exploitation of Children?
The online sexual exploitation of children is a severe issue that plagues children and the next generation. Unfortunately, these crimes will not cease to end, especially as technology continues to expand rapidly. However, governments are suitable to implement practical changes to protect children from these horrific crimes and humanitarian violations.
Implementation of Clear Law and Procedure in Handling Online Sexual Exploitation of Children
Dealing with sex-related crimes, especially those involving children often assisted by a close family member and financed by a foreign entity, is a very complex case, especially if there are no clear laws that state how to handle these situations. Hence, it is vital to have precise regulations and procedures addressing this type of crime to empower law enforcement and prosecutors in processing such offenders.
Firm Collaboration and Partnerships Between International Law Enforcement Agencies
Given that foreign individuals finance a significant portion of online sexual exploitation, the partnership of local law enforcement agencies with their international counterparts could be critical in handling these crimes.
A successful collaboration between law enforcement agencies in the international setting could significantly enable the flow of intelligence and assist enforcement efforts to save the victims.
Develop a Robust Technology and Financial Detection of Offenders
A major challenge in handling online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines is that the crime takes advantage of advanced technology that shrouds the actual identity of offenders and the sharing of illegal materials. A solid technology supporting law enforcement’s investigation and efforts to unmask victims, offenders, and traffickers could substantially intercept these horrific crimes.
More so, the financial aspect of the crime is a significant motivator for traffickers. A robust technology that can detect the crime’s presence and follow the monetary exchange connected to the crimes could significantly curb the illegal online activities of traffickers and offenders.
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