The same dark forces of evil that have trafficked and lured as many as 100,000 or more children into sex slavery and commercial sexual exploitation in the Philippines, as UNICEF estimates, the same criminals are also at work in Europe and all over the world. The Internet with all its good benefits has become the international highway for child abuse.
The horrific condition of sexually abused children online in the Philippines makes it the international hub of on-line child sexual abuse, according to both UNICEF and EUROPOL. The majority of the customers that arrange and pay people, many are relatives of the victims, to sexually abuse children are from developed nations. The global connection by on-line communication makes online sexual exploitation of children a concern for every nation.
There is no nation without its pedophiles and most of them are using the internet and worldwide web to collect and view child pornography and pay for on-line sexual abuse. Many can do it with impunity because the Internet Service Providers and the Telecommunication Corporations are mostly unregulated. Anyone can post almost anything there and the corporations are not held responsible.
The Philippines has such a law which we at the Preda Foundation helped draft, Republic Act RA 9775, otherwise known as the Anti-Child Abuse Law. It demands that the ISPs install blocking software to block child pornography and on-line sexual abuse shows. However, the Philippine telecommunication corporations are too powerful and can ignore the law with impunity.
The national laws of European countries forbid such posting and sharing of child pornography and online sexual abuse but nevertheless, the laws are flouted and abuse is widespread and the telecommunication corporations ought to be more active in blocking it and be held responsible for not doing so.
The attitudes still persist from the past that pedophilia is not a serious problem and that attitude may persist as child pornography and on-line sexual abuse persist and continue to spread and grow especially in this time of lockdown and COVID-19 pandemic. There are 73 million Filipinos using the internet. Twenty-five million are children and 70 percent of these children are on-line without supervision.
Online child abuse has increased by 264 percent during the COVID pandemic, according to the Philippine National Police. Online customers for child sex abuse are mostly from developed countries, including member and observer States of your organization. Victims are as young as three years old. Relatives are the abusers and paid by courier.
As the headline this year says, “Germany investigates 30,000 suspects as online pedophilia probe widens.” (France24) Then we read, “France appeals for witnesses and victims abused by pedophile writer Matzneff.” He was a well-respected writer and television talk-show personality, a writer that, like other intellectuals and artists, glorified his exploits in child abuse and for years his admissions of sexually abusing children went without comment or action. He is now in hiding. These are good signals that things are moving on and awareness-raising is improving.
There has been indifference and apathy in the past to crimes of child abuse. More resources have to be devoted to detecting and apprehending child abusers and increasing the penalties for crimes against children. Billions are being spent on anti-terrorism prevention and apprehension. The greatest and most prolific of terrorists are those within society. They rape, abuse, physically and sexually assault children. They do it undetected and it happens in secret behind closed doors and not on the streets that’s why there is less response and action to end it and they do it around the world through live child sexual abuse shows on the Internet.
The numbers in the Philippines are truly shocking. About 80 percent or 32 million children suffer from violence at some time in their lives. Seven million of these children between the ages of 10 to 18 are sexually abused every year and 20 percent or 1.4 million are under 6 years old.
You have seen from the Preda Foundation video the hurt and pain that the sexual violence against children causes. We can safely assume the sexual abuse suffered in childhood damages millions of children in Europe and the Philippines and around the world. The anger and hatred we see being released in therapy shows the devastating effects of sexual violence on children. The many millions of children abused never report it out of fear or shame as most of it is done by biological fathers, stepfathers or live-in partners and paedophiles.
Few victims are able to speak out or get therapy or help. They grow up carrying the pain and hurt and anger within them. Should we be surprised if this anger at the world is expressed in acts of anti-social, political violence and crime or even acts of terrorism? Everything has its cause and psychologists will testify that childhood violence has life-long consequences.
Lastly, a thought for consideration. On this planet Earth, humans can achieve many amazing inventions and achievements, but as yet have failed to deal with that psychological and emotional condition in some humans whereby they sexually and physically attack children and those children have to live with the consequence with little or no help.
In Europe more educational campaigns should be promoted for children to be encouraged to complain and report when they have been abused and get immediate help. Much more help for child victims here in the developing world and Europe has to be provided.
We humans talking about human and children’s rights and dignity must together seriously dedicate ourselves all the more to continue the on-going work of eradicating, as much as possible, this evil scourge of child sexual abuse. Strictly regulate the Internet and the many platforms of social media, the most important place to continue this work.
This is part of the speech delivered by Father Shay Cullen before the Ministers of the Council of Europe on Nov. 10, 2020, on the occasion of the observance of Children’s Month.
Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse.
The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LICAS News.
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