MANILA— Restricting access to internet and cooperation among various sectors would help prevent the online sexual exploitation of children committed by human trafficking syndicates.
“Government, ICT (information and communication technology) stakeholders, and the private sector must work together to prevent the online sexual exploitation of children,” said Marion Derckx, Head of Mission of the Netherlands Embassy, during the Child Online Protection Summit held Thursday in Manila.
“What we should do is, which are the different steps from recruitment up to the exploitation and where can different partners interfere? How can we build barriers to Internet access? There are so many places in this world where we can build barriers. We can only build that if we know each other and build a strategy together. Restricting Internet access will be able to deter online sexual exploitation of children,” she added.
Poverty is the main reason the youth is being drawn into the online sexual industry, thus, there is a need to become aware on the “dark side” of digital technology, Derckx said.
UNICEF Philippines Country Representative Lotta Sylwander said most of the perpetrators of the sexual exploitation of children are their parents or siblings.
“Our study we conducted together with the Council for the Welfare of Children in 2015 revealed that 80 percent of Filipino children may have experienced violence during their childhood while 28 percent of boys said that they experienced sexual abuse,” Sylwander said.
Furthermore, there is an increasing likelihood that Filipino children may have gain access to pornographic images online.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that there are 6,692 IP addresses that were tracked to networks wherein pedophiles share sexual images and videos in 2013 to 2014.
“It is urgent to build partnerships to block, to filter and to prevent this from happening at all,” the UNICEF official said.
UNICEF is working on a proposed legislation to Congress that will restrict the access of children to pornographic websites in order to prevent sexual exploitation.
Meanwhile, the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) Secretariat of the DOJ disclosed that out of 320 convictions from 2005 to 2017, only 22 of these cases involved minor victims.
“We must pursue on strengthening existing efforts to eradicate these sexual exploitation crimes,” said Darlene Pajarito, Executive Director of the IACAT Secretariat.
Last April, the United States and the Philippines signed the Child Protection Compact Partnership to strengthen efforts of the government to reduce online child sexual exploitation and child labor trafficking.
The four-year plan seeks to reinforce current efforts to prosecute and convict child traffickers; provide comprehensive, trauma-informed care for children of these crimes; and prevent these crimes from occurring in the future.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) assured the government will allocate a larger budget for child online protection.
“Next year, the government will provide P500 million to enhance cybersecurity. We are working with the National Privacy Commission to assure that human rights are further protected,” DICT Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Allan Cabanlong said.