Children Rescued from Cybersex Trafficking in Philippines
This week, six children—most under the age of 7—were rescued from sexual exploitation in the form of online child pornography.
Global human rights organization International Justice Mission (IJM) assisted international agencies and the Philippine government in conducting raids that led to the rescue of the children.
Last month, according to IJM, the UK’s National Crime Agency discovered more than 4,000 images and videos of children being exploited on the laptop of a British national who was recently convicted for abusing and exploiting children via webcam.
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Discovery of the images led to an investigation and the ultimate rescue of children from three homes from which these images and videos were being broadcast to customers overseas in over 19 different countries, including the U.S., UK, and Canada.
Three suspects were arrested, including the British national’s alleged partners in crime, while the Philippines National Bureau of Investigations seized additional evidence for forensic examination.
“These cases show that while foreign and Filipino perpetrators seek to sexually exploit children online on a growing scale, IJM is ready and able to support international and Philippine law enforcement to stop the abuse and hold them accountable,” says John Tanagho, deputy director for IJM Cebu.
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On the heels of this operation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shared a referral with Philippine authorities regarding the case of an American man currently on trial in the U.S. for sex crimes in the Philippines.
The man was in possession of sexually explicit images and video of at least one minor/girl, allegedly shared via social media by a Filipino women who was also pimping out girls for sex.
IJM staff assisted the regional anti-cybercrime police with an operation to arrest the suspected trafficker. Charges are still being framed, but she may face penalties for both street-based trafficking and child pornography.
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One minor was rescued, but the search for a 10-year-old girl shown in the abusive online photographs continues. This girl is believed to be the suspect’s little sister.
“Sustained and specialized law enforcement can prevent the online sexual abuse of millions of Filipino children, just as it has with sex trafficking,” Tanagho added.
In 2007, IJM received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to conduct a study to test the effects of increased anti-trafficking law enforcement and other public justice system reforms on the prevalence of children in the commercial sex trade.
The study, named “Project Lantern,” saw a 79 percent reduction in the number of minors available for exploitation in the commercial sex industry over a five year period, confirming that investments in sustainable law enforcement and public justice systems are effective in reducing violent crimes against children.
Photo courtesy: IJM