Protect Children From Online Sexual Exploitation | Child-focused NGOs Call On The Government To Intensify Efforts Against OSEC
A global alliance of
child-focused international non-government organizations calls on the national
and local governments to intensify efforts against online sexual exploitation
against children (OSEC).
MANILA, Philippines — Taking advantage of the
quarantine situation, perpetrators could easily groom children online and
coerce them to send and receive sexually explicit messages, images, and videos.
“With the indefinite suspension of classes due to
COVID-19, children are spending more time on the internet, exposed to the
dangers of OSEC,” said Euan Crawshaw, Philippine Country Manager of Terre des
Hommes - Netherlands.
Children and young adults may experience boredom and
economic stress as they stay at home for prolonged periods of time, pushing
them to engage in risky behaviors in exchange for money.
“With parents and guardians preoccupied with
economic, health, and security concerns, children may end up browsing the
internet unsupervised,” Cranshaw added.
“As the lockdown bars many people from going to work,
they look for various alternatives to sustain family income. Going online to
sell sexually explicit materials is among the options, particularly in the
Philippines where OSEC has been rampant even before the COVID-19 pandemic,” he
We, the Joining Forces Alliance, support the Filipino
children in their call to eliminate OSEC — as reflected in the National
Children Manifesto on OSEC, which is written by the children themselves.
We also commend the relentless efforts of the
government. And we will support the government in providing services to
victim-survivors and in ensuring that children are safe.
Now more than ever, our joint efforts should be
intensified. Hence, we are calling on the national government — through the
Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Inter-Agency Council Against
Child Pornography; the Department of Justice’s Inter-Agency Council Against
Trafficking; and the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Cybercrime Group and
Women and Children Protection Center — to further strengthen efforts in
combating OSEC during this health crisis:
Ensure that mechanisms for
reporting, referral, and responding to OSEC cases are functional at all
times, both at the national and local level.
Raise awareness on OSEC through television, radio, and social media, where people mostly spend
their time during the crisis.
Establish a database and
monitoring system for OSEC reports related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are also calling on local government units (LGUs)
to increase efforts in preventing OSEC among their constituents.
“Social protection and safety net interventions for
the COVID-19 response should address heightened and complex physical and
economic risks and vulnerabilities of children and low-income households,” said
Selena Fortich, Plan International’s Country Program Manager for Child
“Government interventions should focus on Filipino
workers whose source of income were affected due to the temporary closure of
business and work, as well as families living below the poverty line,” Fortich emphasized.
“The government must ensure that such economic needs are met to prevent parents
from selling sexual images of their children online.”
We, the Joining Forces Alliance, put forward these
recommendations for LGUs:
Provide adequate financial
and material assistance (i.e., cash, food, or non-food items) to families
whose livelihoods are affected.
Ensure that prevention
measures are functional at all times, such as awareness campaigns,
barangay-level reporting mechanisms, and activation of Violence Against Women
and Children (VAWC) desks.
Devise alternative reporting
mechanisms that are more accessible to the public.
Consider the unique needs of
victims of violence, such as the need to move homes
during quarantine restrictions.
About the Joining
Joining Forces Alliance on the Elimination of Violence Against Children is a
global alliance of child-focused international non-government organizations. We
are advocating for a renewed commitment of governments to achieve the rights of
children. We are composed of ChildFund Alliance, Plan International, Save the
Children, SOS Children’s Villages, Terre des
Hommes International Federation, and World Vision.