A group child rights group has warned against the growing number of cases of online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines amid the new coronavirus pandemic.
The group Child Rights Network reiterated its call for Filipinos to be on guard against the online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) in light of a spike in OSEC reports and cases during the pandemic.
“We have to declare an all-out war against OSEC in order to resolutely shut down these hideous acts committed against children,” said Romeo Dongeto from the Child Rights Network.
On May 21, a 28-year-old woman suspected of online sex trafficking was arrested in the southern Philippine city of Butuan and was found to be a close relative of seven victims and six other children suspected to have also been abused.
“The sad reality that the suspect is a close relative and acquaintance of the victims highlights the fact that at least 25 percent of OSEC cases in the country are perpetrated by family members and close contacts of victims,” said Dongeto.
The group International Justice Mission has recently released a study confirming that the Philippines has become a global hotspot of online sexual abuse.
“This is condemnable in the strongest possible way,” said Father Melvin Castro of the Diocese of Tarlac.
“Some may view that the Church is being hypocritical in its condemnation as some of her leaders and members are guilty of worse crimes against women and children,” noted the priest.
“But clearly and objectively, we have to condemn and root-out all causes of these very grave sins and crimes against children. Clearly these crimes cry out to the heavens for justice,” said Father Castro.
He said one of the “critical aspects” of the crime is material poverty of the family. “Government has to address this material poverty especially during this time of crisis,” he said.