CHILDREN aged 10 or younger make up over a third of the images assessed to be in the most serious category of online sexual exploitation and abuse, according to the Global Threat Assessment 2019 report released last Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, by the WePROTECT Global Alliance.
The report was released during the WePROTECT Global Alliance Global Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Dec. 11-12.
IJM Cebu Field Office Director John Tanagho joined representatives from 39 organizations operating to both prevent and respond to online child sexual exploitation and abuse in over 30 countries worldwide.
Thanks to the End Violence Fund, which has invested over US$32 million in national, regional and global projects, the participants were able to exchange learnings, consider the strengths and areas for improvement in strategies and explore further opportunities for collaboration.
“Through the End Violence Fund, we are able to sustain our ability to operate at a high level of trust with our partners in the criminal justice system, specifically targeting to end the online sexual exploitation of children (Osec) in Cebu, Philippines,” said Tanagho, who presented the progress being made in the Philippines during the End Violence Fund Grantee Convening last Dec. 9-10 and the WePROTECT Global Alliance Summit.
As of November 2019, the fund has allowed IJM to support Philippine law enforcement in the rescue of 150 victims in 44 operations. Fifty-two perpetrators have been arrested and 19 of them have already been convicted and brought to account.
“When traffickers and online sex offenders operate with impunity, vulnerable children continually live in fear of the next live streamed sexual abuse. But when the justice system responds to end that impunity by arresting and prosecuting perpetrators and rescuing children, it is now the perpetrators who live in fear that at any moment the police will find them and hold them accountable under the law,” added Tanagho.
During the summit, political leaders, senior representatives from international organizations and subject-matter experts spoke out about the threat of online child sexual exploitation and abuse and the commensurate response required.
“As internet coverage continues to grow rapidly around the world, the scale and impact of the threat to children of online sexual exploitation and abuse is growing dramatically. 200,000 children go online for the first time every day, often with little or no awareness of or protection from the risks. We must seize the opportunity for more effective coordinated action to keep children safe online before it is too late,” said End Violence Executive Director and WePROTECT Global Alliance member Dr. Howard Taylor.
The Global Threat Assessment aims to raise further international awareness, provide greater understanding of the threat and how it is evolving, provide case studies of progress and critically, highlight 11 steps needed to tackle the threat. (International Justice Mission)