The dark side of sex exploitation
The sexual exploitation of children continues because sometimes, parents are the “enemies” who sell their young ones, according to anti-trafficking group ECPAT Philippines.
The End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT)-
Philippines said 40 percent or 17 of the 44 victims it rescued had family members who were involved in the operations or who were aware of the child’s involvement in cybersex.
“The victims don’t report mostly because yung families nila ang involved,” said ECPAT Philippines’ information officer Jenna Serrano.
Take the case of “Mitz, who was forced into the sex trade at the age of 11 by her mother, who received payments ranging from P10,000 to P20,000 from local and foreign clients.
Mitz, now 17, said she was taken to a place “with many gadgets” so that she can be seen online. Her mother also managed numerous Facebook accounts to hunt for potential clients.
Mitz contracted gonorrhea and had two induced abortions. She is now living in a shelter run by ECPAT. However, her mother remains scot-free.
The teenager said her mother always told her that nobody would believe that a mother can sell her child to prostitution.
Data provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to The Manila Times showed that cases of online trafficking have gradually increased over the years. The department recorded 51 cases of online trafficking in 2015 and 76 as of June 2017. However, the number of traditional trafficking cases significantly decreased from 338 in 2015 to only 11 as of June 2017.
The DSWD said out of the 863 children rescued by the agency since 2015, 66 were aged 0 to 6, 138 were aged 7 to 12, while 76 percent or 653 children were aged 13 to 17, mostly female.
“Ang trafficking kasi is a form of abuse. It’s borderless. Hindi rin ganun kadaling sukatin ang kanyang magnitude, lalo na kapag magulang ang madaling maengganyo dahil sa pera. Wala rin minsang acknowledgment ng victim na trafficking na pala iyon,” said DSWD social welfare officer 2 Grace Blando.
She added that online sexual trafficking is a “high-technology problem” that limits the Philippines from proactively monitoring these rising cases, particularly those that occur in the victims’ households.