Cybercrime destroys children's lives

Failure to implement laws against online child abuse is same as aiding, abetting it
Cybercrime destroys children's lives

Gerard Peter Scully of Australia, right, accused of raping and trafficking two girls in the Philippines, leaves a court handcuffed to another inmate after his arraignment in Cagayan de Oro City, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao last June 16. (Photo by AFP)

It is the most disturbing crime that you will ever read about when young children, only 6 years old and above, are taken to a room in a rich suburb or a squatter's shack in a slum and made to perform sex acts before a camera linked to the Internet. 

This is massive criminal business growing by the day. Despite the very slow Internet connections throughout the Philippines in general, the cybersex operators and the sex dens that show child pornography seem to have the fastest broadband speed of all.

Inside deals with Internet service providers might account for this, but one thing is certain — it is wrecking havoc with the lives of thousands of small children.  

During these sessions young boys and girls are coerced or lured into doing sex acts for foreigners who view them from abroad for payment. Many children are traumatized and disturbed for life. 

The case of Australian Gerard Peter Scully, on trial in Cagayan de Oro City for allegedly sexually assaulting children on camera and killing one while videotaping it before selling it over the Internet, is perhaps the most heinous case. 

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A charity protecting children worldwide, Terres de Hommes, helped police identify and arrest pedophiles who are using the Internet to abuse children and share the shocking images.

The international demand is great. A few years ago the charity posted online a video of a computer generated 10-year old child named "Sweetie," who looked so real that as many as 20,000 pedophiles worldwide tried to contact her and made sexual overtones.

Philippine laws are plenty to combat these crimes against children. However, government officials struggle to catch criminals and child traffickers who are smart in hiding their activities. 

In the Philippines, the courts are quick to convict journalists, writers, and commentators when accused of libel, however notorious cases of cybercrime, child pornography, child abuse and human trafficking go unpunished.

Victims saved by social workers of the children's rights group, the Preda Foundation, tell of how they were recruited, given money, tricked into debt and then coerced to perform acts. They tell how widespread it is among youth and that many view the sex acts on smart phones.

Other youth perform and film sex acts among themselves and schoolmates and illegally share it with others.

People are also lured online to believe that they have a girlfriend or boyfriend in a chat room and are persuaded to show themselves in sexual poses. Then they are blackmailed to pay money to the extortionist not to post the images online. Some young people have committed suicide as a result.

While the Philippine 2009 Anti-Child Pornography Act forbids all of these criminal acts, it is not implemented by Internet server providers in the Philippines.

The law specifically states that filters and blocking software must be used to prevent child pornography websites from being accessed and for any indecent images of children being transmitted. But this is not being done.

The National Bureau of Investigation has special powers under the Anti-Cybercrime Act allowing it to obtain data from Internet service providers so they can act if there is illegal content passing through the provider’s computers, yet this illegal content goes on unimpeded.

Nongovernmental child protection organizations have challenged Internet server providers to confirm they are complying with the law but are ignored.

Telephone and Internet companies are violating the law and other laws covering inappropriate and offensive content if they do not have these filters in place.

Impunity for crimes is common in the Philippines especially for the wealthy and those well connected. Money passes hands and anything is possible. When criminals, despite there being strong evidence against them, can walk free then we can see a serious problem with the legal system.    

The corruption within law enforcement and a weak political will encourages international pedophiles and child pornographers to come to the Philippines and abuse children and make money from it. It's a billion dollar business worldwide. An estimated 100,000 children are lured or forced into sex acts on web cams and child pornography prostitution.  

Silence about child crime is to allow and even approve it.  

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.



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