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Sunday, December 05, 2021
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Filipino survivor of online sexual exploitation bags international leadership award

Photo from International Justice Mission

A 24-YEAR-OLD Filipino survivor of online child sexual exploitation was among the 2021 Women of the Future Award winners in Southeast Asia.

Ruby, not her real name, received the prestigious award for the Community Spirit and Public Service category “for using her voice to help fuel a global movement to end the online sexual exploitation of children.”

“I will use every ounce of passion and strength that I have to continue being an advocate against online sexual exploitation of children to the ends of the world until the day that all captives are free,” said Ruby, who turned herself into a survivor leader and advocate.

The International Justice Mission (IJM), a global organization that protects the poor from violence through the developing world, said that Ruby "has contributed to advocacy and awareness efforts by speaking to local and global media and joining influencers" social media campaigns.

According to IJM, Ruby’s story of rescue and restoration is highlighted in the recently released Global Threat Assessment (GTA) Report 2021 by the WeProtect Global Alliance, an organization that brings together experts from government, the private sector, and civil society to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online.

“Noting the increasing scale of child sexual exploitation and abuse online, the GTA Report recommends greater regulation to make online environments safer for children, deployment of online safety tools by tech companies, and increased investment in law enforcement, among others,” IJM said in a statement.

“The Global Threat Assessment reveals that livestreamed child sexual abuse for payment is increasing, with demand-side offenders unable to travel turning to livestreamed abuse,” said John Tanagho, executive director of IJM’s Center to End Online Sexual Exploitation of Children.

“This is a reminder that greater global and national collaboration is needed to protect children through sustained whole-of-society approaches, including more effective and resourced justice systems. The inspiring story of Filipino survivor leader, Ruby, provides hope that effective justice system responses and international collaboration lead to victim rescue, survivor restoration, and ultimately prevention of new abuse,” Tanagho added.

According to IJM, they provided case studies, consultation, and other data that helped inform the GTA, drawing from their extensive experience working alongside the Philippine Government and other organizations to combat trafficking of children to create child sexual exploitation material, especially via livestreaming.

Less than two weeks before her Women of the Future Award win on October 7, 2021, Ruby had an opinion piece published in the Thomson Reuters Foundation News, calling for greater online safety legislation and improved detection and reporting by tech companies.

Since 2011, IJM has assisted Philippine authorities in more than 250 operations, leading to the rescue of 858 victims and the arrest of 301 suspects of online sexual exploitation of children.

IJM and the Philippine Government partners also pioneered child-protective prosecutions strategies that secure justice without retraumatizing survivors, along with trauma-informed aftercare practices and systems.

While most of the survivors are undergoing therapy and other trauma-informed interventions, 199 have already completed rehabilitation programs and reintegrated back to the community, including Ruby, IJM reported. (SunStar Philippines)


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