The Philippines Department of Justice says it receives over 3,000 reports each month of Filipino children being sexually exploited and sold online.
UNICEF calls the Philippines the epicenter of cybersex trafficking, where children are forced to perform sex acts, abused, or raped — sometimes by relatives — over a webcam.
Senator Loren Legarda says the country must enforce its anti-trafficking law better — which can jail traffickers for life — but also says the Philippines needs the help of other countries to crack down on predators around the world who are paying to watch these webcams.
Thomson Reuters Foundation reports:
“Developed countries, from which the demand for online sexual exploitation of children usually originates, must do their part,” said Legarda days after delivering a speech on cybersex child trafficking to the Senate.
She cited a recent case in Queensland, Australia, where a man was spared jail and fined $500 after being convicted of receiving explicit images of two girls from a Filipina mother.
“This calls for amending the lenient sentences that their laws mete upon those who prey on Filipino children … raise the penalties to lower the demand,” added the three-time senator and first woman to be elected head of the Philippines’ upper house.
Juvy Manwong, assistant secretary at the department, added that the Philippines does get significant from some countries in fighting child cybersex trafficking, including Australia, Britain, Germany, Norway, and the United States.
Still, she says “It is disheartening to see soft punishments against abusers in other countries.”
Last week the police, prosecutors, NGOs, and government and aviation officials gathered in Angeles — one of the country’s major trafficking hubs — for training on human trafficking and victim support.
Legarda says they need to raise the public’s awareness of the crime so that they can report it and that children should be taught how to protect themselves both online and offline.