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Protecting online sexually exploited children in the Philippines

The Internet opens many doors for children. But access to the net also poses serious dangers. Did you know that in the Philippines as many as 1 in 5 children between the ages of 12 and 17 is a victim of online sexual abuse? They are not sufficiently aware of the online dangers in advance or have to earn their money because of poverty. We are partnering with ECPAT Philippines and Bidlisiw Foundation to tackle online child sexual exploitation in the Philippines.

Background

Online Child Sexual Exploitation (OCSE) is an on-going problem in the Philippines, where it affects boys and girls in various communities. Although it is difficult to have accurate official data, a study carried out by ECPAT, Interpol and Unicef estimates 2 million children have been subjected to “grave” instances of online sexual exploitation and abuse in just one year. In the context of this study, the term “grave” includes, for example, children being blackmailed to engage in sexual activities, or the sharing of sexual images without permission. A national study from 2016 indicates that one in two Filipino children experience online abuse, and one in four are exposed to sexually explicit content.

In the Philippines, 1 in 5 children are victims of online sexual exploitation. For example, children are forced to engage in sexual acts via social media. With your support, we teach children and parents about online safety and help them build a better future.

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The 'no touch is no harm' myth

OCSE is a complex issue that is influenced by various factors. Poverty, dysfunctional or broken homes, poor parenting, peer influence, (lack of) family values, socio-cultural beliefs and norms all contribute to the vulnerability of children. In the Philippines, 23.7% of the population lived below the national poverty line in 2021.

Children and parents/caregivers have limited awareness and understanding of OCSE. The myth that 'no touch is no harm' and other social norms are persistent. Children hesitate to report on caregivers or other family members that facilitate or commit the offence. Consequently, OCSE is under-reported.

Goals

SCROL envisions a world where online sexual exploitation of children does not exist, where children are in charge of their own agency. In their joint program, the CSO partners, OCSE survivors and technical and field experts have formulated a desired change. The SCROL program aims to reach 22,100 children in Cambodia, Nepal and the Philippines in Asia and Kenya in East Africa.

Desired Change

Program Outcome

Approach

To reach the goal that all children are protected from OCSE in a safe family and community environment, we seek proactive and collaborative engagement with: 

  • Children, families and communities 
  • Law enforcement and justice sector 
  • The private sector (financial institutions, internet and digital service providers and the travel and entertainment industry 
  • Formal and informal institutions, including the human rights accountability mechanisms

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