Cyber child porn rising in Cebu

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012


ANOTHER form of sexual exploitation of children is rampantly rising in Cebu, paved by the advent of Internet facilities even in the poorest communities, said non-government organizations working for children's rights Monday.

Representatives of the international children’s aid organization Terre des Hommes in Netherlands and its partners fighting for children’s rights in Cebu, the Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB), Bidlisiw Foundation, and the Fellowship for Organizing Endeavors (Forge) said child pornography via the internet is rampantly spreading in the six districts of Cebu and most likely in the whole country as an easy way out of poverty.

CLB Executive Director Joan Saniel said official data on children trapped in cyber child porn are still lacking, but trends show that more and more Filipino children are forced to perform sexual acts in front of the webcam while their clients, usually Western pedophiles, watch at the other end of the internet from different locations.

"Cyber child pornography has become more aggressive since easy access to internet facilities nowadays has allowed anyone, including children, to 'work' at home, " says Telay Echano, country coordinator of the Terres des Hommes-Netherlands' Philippine office.

Intermediates of these pedophiles have targeted parents, who because of easy money, let their own children and children from their community perform sexual acts in front of the webcam. Children forced into cyber porn earn as much as P300 (6 Euros) per day posing nude and performing sexual acts in front of the webcam in their own home.

In response to the growing problem, Terres des Hommes-Netherlands and its Cebu partners launched on Monday a public awareness campaign called "Sugbo! Lihok Batok sa Pornograpiya: Cebu-wide Day to End Child Pornography".

The launching ceremony, held at the Parkmall Cebu, gathered supporters from schools, civil society, and local governments.

The campaign is the local expression of Terre des Hommes Netherlands' Project Redirect (www.redirectcebu.com). Terre des Hommes has launched a special project in the Netherlands to stop child exploitation in the Philippines, including prostitution and cybersex.

The project aims that for every donation received from the Dutch public against child exploitation, an arrow artwork is placed in strategic parts of the street until it forms a symbolic route redirecting the children from an area of prostitution and exploitation to a Terre des Hommes Netherlands' shelter for children. Also on Monday at Schipol, Amsterdam, actor Rick Engelkes signed the first arrow of the route. The campaign in the Netherlands and Cebu kicked off simultaneously.

In Cebu, the campaign culminates on August 1, in a gathering of anti-cyber child porn advocates at the Plaza Independencia.

The campaign has already received support from the local governments in the Cebu province. On July 10, the Provincial Council led by Vice Governor Agnes Magpale passed Resolution 1029-2012 supporting the campaign against cyber child porn.

"Whereas this vicious social malady that pierces the vulnerability of our innocent and (vulnerable) children has to end if we have to spare society's moral foundation and fiber," said in the Provincial Board resolution, urging all sectors to work together to combat the problem.

On July 11, the Cebu City Council approved a resolution, sponsored by Councilor Alvin Dizon, supporting the Cebu-wide Day to End Child Pornography on August 1.

Fighting cyber child porn needs the support of parents, schools, and the whole community, says Terre des Hommes and partners.

"The psychological damage to children who are exploited in this way is very large. Children are traumatized severely. Parents are not aware of that. Educating communities is very important," said Telay Echano.

Pamela Uy, Bidlisiw deputy Executive Director, said working together would help see the warning signs at once, foremost of which is letting a child pose nude in front of the webcam.

"Some parents or guardians think no abuse is being committed against the children because there is no actual physical contact," Uy said.

"Most children rarely report their cases. Some are afraid while others, both children and their families, do not know that they are already being exploited," says Jonna Bonilla-Nunez, Forge-Rescue Project Coordinator.(PR)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 18, 2012.

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