Editorial: Where barangay officials count most

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Sunday, February 16, 2014


SEVEN minors were rescued from a cybersex den in the city’s biggest barangay -- 76-A Bucana.

According to the police, the girls were aged 11 to 16 and would perform sex for foreigners.

That this exists here had long been suspected. It is all over – Metro Manila, Cebu, Pampanga, Laguna, it simply cannot be in Davao, which is among the most bustling and densely populated. But cracking down on the operation is a challenge. Cybersex operations, after all can be very discreet and all an operator needs are fast Internet connections.

Anti-Cybercrime Group leader Cris Nhel Cainog said they have been monitoring the place for four months before the crackdown.

How many more are there? We can never be sure. The flesh trade has indeed taken various forms and the most vulnerable become even more vulnerable -- the girl -- children.

Driven by poverty and most likely enticed by promises of material rewards, these children can easily be recruited to this world wide web of lust.

This is where the role of the community itself in protecting the children comes to fore, given cybersex’s very discreet and seemingly harmless operations in densely populated communities.

The daily and nightly watch over unusual activities in the neighborhood can only be sustained by the neighbors themselves. This is where the barangay officials and purok officers can be most effective in, to check on the neighborhood, to encourage community folks to be aware of what’s going on in their surroundings and help keep a keen eye out for their children.

Performing for cybersex is something that shouldn’t be scoffed at and ignored for just like any other acts of prostitution, it affects the child in ways we may never be able to fathom until that child grows up, wasted.

In the research conducted by Terre de Hommes Netherlands, a development organization dedicated to children, on children in webcam child sex in the Philippines, it showed that children involved in this are being physically and mentally branded.

“The children are left with physical wounds after their webcam shows are over, having been forced to use sexual devices for which they are too young physically. Furthermore, they develop a low self-esteem, posttraumatic stress syndrome and uncontrollable feelings of guilt, shame and disgrace. Most children feel obliged to webcam child sex tourism in order to help their family members financially. Parents are unemployed, often addicted and always at the end of their resources. The emotional effects these shows have on the children will often translate into various behavioral disorders, self-destructive and promiscuous activities, depressions and quitting school prematurely. The children then become even more prone to new forms of exploitation. The vicious circle seems irreversible. Especially since perpetrators continue to get away,” the TdH report reads.

That said, let us all look around to check if something similar is happening in your neighborhood before more children fall into the trap.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 17, 2014.

Opinion

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