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The Social background of sexually –abused children in the Philippines

September 14, 2017 · 

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The Social background of sexually –abused children in the Philippines
Preda News

That is absolutely true that child abuse, sex trafficking and bondage in the Philippines where child sex trafficking especially in tourist destinations such as Angeles City, Olongapo, Puerto Galera, Boracay , Surigao, among others, remains a pervasive problem. There is also strong evidence that the incidaence of cyber sex crimes or online sexual exploitation of children where very young Filipino children are coerced to perform sex acts for live internet broadcast to paying foreigners is increasing. A recent study conducted by UNICEF titled Perils and Possibilities: Growing up online reveals that globally there are around 75,000 child predators online at anytime and many of them are trying to contact children in the Philippines. In 2015, the Philippines Office of Cybercrime received 12,374 cyber tips from the US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Furthermore, the number of criminal cases of live stream child abuse in the Philippines is rising, from 57 in 2013, to 89 in 2014, and 167 in 2015.

Cyber sex crimes are very difficult to track as it is conducted in inconspicuous places such as in residential areas as long as there is an internet connection and oftentimes parents and relatives of the child-victims are also involved in the online abuse of the victims. There is a growing acceptance that this is a Ok form of earning money by bring their children to be videoed live on the internet, they think it does no harm to the child.

The failure of government to act on solving the problem of public perception about child abuse on-line creates a serious need to be addressed by this project.

A study published early in 2016 conducted by the Philippine Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) estimates that every 53 minutes, a woman or child is raped and that seven in 10 victims of violence were children. The CWR report further says that despite the alarming number, victims could hardly find solace with the absence of support, aggravated by the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators. Besides they don’t know there rights and how to seek redress, get help and make complaints. Violence against women is prevalent and they need to have knowledge of their rights a contact organization to get help. This project will address this need.

here is stark evidence that the commercial sex industry is corrupting families and spreading child abuse in the community. Filipino family values are being eroded daily because local governments encourage the sex tourist industry and men and women believe it is then ok to abuse other minors in the Filipino sex bars or to send there teenage children to work there.

When international sex tourists come to the Philippines and abuse women and children and are able to escape prosecution, local men feel they can abuse children with impunity too even their own children. When they see the failure of law enforcement they are encouraged to do the same. At the Preda Therapeutic Home for Girls, most of the girls were abused by their own fathers, uncle, a relative, or the live-in partner of their mothers, some of whom get addicted to underage sex in the sex bars and do it at home. Some child sex abuse victims are found suffering from venereal disease after being abused by their own relatives who contracted the disease in the sex bars.

One of the factors in the Philippines that contribute to the spread of sexual abuse, commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking is the prevailing culture of machismo that perpetuates the myth that men have a “right” to sexually exploit the so-called “weaker, and therefore inferior sex.” This is re-enforced by a media soaked with sex and violence that damages the psyche and moral values especially of children. The complicity of government officials and law enforcement officers is also a major problem as they issue operating permits and licenses to the sex clubs where victims of trafficking are brought and are brazenly abused.

For several years no public official was criminally convicted for trafficking or trafficking-related corruption. Yet minors are found in the sex bars working as child and teenage prostitutes in bonded debt labor. The police too cannot be trusted as some are operators or regular customers of sex bars themselves or receive pay from the owners and operators. The project will target police and government officials to create knowledge and awareness and commitment to fulfill their obligations. The project will invite recovered minors who are trained as public speakers to recount their experiences and trauma to the audience to convince them that such forced prostitution is traumatized and hurtful to them depriving the of their childhood and a life of education and dignity.

The Philippines has about 37 laws protecting the rights of women and children that impose stiff penalties yet these are mostly ignored. Corrupt prosecutors and judges contribute to the abuse of women and children by taking bribes and dismissing criminal cases despite overwhelming evidence. No wonder the overall number of prosecutions and convictions remained disproportionately low for the size of the problem. This can be due to lengthy trials which take an average of between three and a half years to five years. As a result, victims either lose hope or interest and are easily influenced for monetary considerations by the perpetrators to withdraw the case.

It is therefore very important to provide all the necessary help to victims of trafficking so they can rebuild their lives and become advocates against trafficking. However as per Preda’s experience, duty-bearers are usually un-aware of their responsibility to the children and do not know how or are not motivated to act in a manner that will uphold and protect the rights of children. For example, some parents allow their children to be sold to the commercial sex industry or abused online because they profit from it. In many cases of domestic sexual abuse, some mothers take the side of the suspected abuser, usually the step-father or uncle of the child, instead of believing her own daughter. As a result, the daughter is abused many times over, younger children are also abused until they run away from home and become at high risk of being trafficked and commercially sexually exploited.

When child abuse victims and their parents/guardians report the abuse, barangay officials usually facilitate out-of-court amicable settlement even of very serious cases of child rape. This is against the law but it happens and the child victims are relegated to the sideline and they do not receive whatever kind of help whatsoever. Sometimes when children report abuse, some teachers do nothing either because they do not know what to do or are afraid of becoming involved in the case or in the investigation for fear of retaliation from the suspect. Most police officers are not child-friendly and cannot always be trusted as some of them frequent the sex bars themselves. Local social workers, on the other hand, are burdened with so many other responsibilities in the city/municipality sometimes they look at child abuse victims as just an additional burden to them. As a result of all this, the children continue to suffer in silence and the vicious cycle goes on.

These duty-bearers (parents, village officials, teachers, guidance counselors, police officers and local social workers) need to be made aware of their responsibilities towards the children and also of their liabilities if and when they fail in their duty and to be self-motivated to act on behalf of the children.

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