The Department of Justice in the Philippines has reported that cases of online sexual exploitation of children increased 264% during the COVID-19 quarantine (Mar. 1 - May 24) compared to the same period last year when there were 76,561 cases.
The Justice Department said that "most of the cases include possession, manufacture, and distribution of child pornography; online enticement of children for sexual acts; child sex trafficking; sex tourism involving children; extra-familial child sexual molestation; unsolicited obscene material sent to a child; and misleading words or digital images on the internet," according to the Manila Bulletin, the largest newspaper in the Philippines.
“The aforesaid increase…is attributable to the fact that during the ECQ [Enhanced Community Quarantine], strict home quarantine is observed in all households, and internet usage surges as people stay home,” said the Justice Department.
So far, legal authorities have taken action in 10 of the cases, which resulted in the arrest of seven suspects. In addition, 34 children were reportedly rescued.
According to the People's Television News (PTV News), Philippine authorities have "communicated with Facebook management to report pages that serve as platforms for illegal activities on children."
Justice Department Undersecretary Markk Perete said he is "confident that Internet service providers will voluntarily comply with the law requiring them to install technology that will block or filter out materials that exploit children.”
“They know that such a legal obligation is automatically read into their franchises and permits to operate," said Perete. "And they realize, more than anyone, that without such technology, this trend of victimization of children who are the most vulnerable among us will remain unabated."
According to INTERPOL, when it comes to sexual exploitation of children, "this includes the abuse of very young children, and even babies."
A 2018 INTERPOL report, Towards a Global Indicator on Unidentified Victims in Child Sexual Exploitation Material, identified the following trends:
- "The younger the victim, the more severe the abuse.
- "84% of images contained explicit sexual activity.
- "More than 60% of unidentified victims were prepubescent, including infants and toddlers.
- "65% of unidentified victims were girls.
- "Severe abuse images were likely to feature boys.
- "92% of visible offenders were male."