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Father Shay Cullen is an Irish Columban missionary who has worked in the Philippines since 1969. In 1974, he founded the Preda Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to protecting the rights of women and children and campaigning for freedom from sex slavery and human trafficking.

The Philippines' secret pandemic of child sexual abuse

The Philippines' secret pandemic of child sexual abuse

Indian school students hold placards at an awareness rally against child sex abuse in Siliguri on July 6, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Published: March 29, 2022 10:23 AM GMT
Telecom firms and ISPs allow the passage of child sexual material without a qualm of conscience while the govt fails to act

What could be more shameful to the human race, to any nation, every community or family than vulnerable, helpless children being sexually exploited, abused, sold and raped with impunity?

That shame is what the world is still trying to hide, deny and ignore but there are those who try to cope with the horrible truth and expose it.

It’s a challenge to all to accept that this heinous crime is a common, secret crime taking place in families, on the street, in brothels and hotels. Acts of child sexual abuse and violence are happening every minute, every hour, and every day in every country.

No nation or community can say it does not happen.

Among children as young as six to 16, one out of every three or four will have suffered an act of sexual abuse. Many have been abused by parents, relatives, live-in partners of their mothers, neighbors, friends and sex tourists.

Many sexually abuse their children online in live sex shows over the internet, allowed and enabled by the internet service providers (ISPs), all for filthy money to enable the sexual gratification of foreign pedophiles.

Images of children being abused are also sold to pedophiles online by the child’s parents or relatives for their sexual gratification. Even live child abuse sex shows are offered

The Philippines is the hub of this evil trade. The abhorrent business is prevalent here. The executives and employees of PLDT, Globe and Dito allow the passage of child sexual materials apparently without a qualm of conscience. They refuse to install blocking software despite the anti-child pornography law of 2009, also known as Republic Act (RA) 9775, telling them to do so.

Images of children being abused are also sold to pedophiles online by the child’s parents or relatives for their sexual gratification. Even live child abuse sex shows are offered. The abusers only need a low-cost smartphone and a cheap internet connection.

The telecommunication corporations and the ISPs are at the center of the proliferation of this crime by enabling the transmission of child abuse images. They seem more powerful than the government itself.

According to the charity Liberate Children, it is estimated that 10 million children are trafficked for sexual exploitation around the world today and they have an average age of 12 to 14 years old. The abuse of the internet enables and allows this.

Victims of domestic sexual abuse can be estimated in the millions. No one knows how many since the crimes are committed in secret and children are threatened not to talk or report abuse. It is only years later they find the chance and opportunity to reveal what they endured. The #MeToo movement is helping a lot.

Social workers in the Preda Foundation have rescued and healed victims as young as three and six years of age. There are 52 girls recovering from sexual assault at present.

We help them to heal and to file their legal complaint against their abusers. The brave children testify strongly after having emotional release therapy. They win an average of 16 convictions every year. As many as 35 court cases are ongoing; others are archived as the cowardly abusers are in hiding. Bringing the abusers to justice is closure and victory for the children.

I discovered the cover-up by authorities of a syndicate selling children as young as nine years old to US sailors in 1982 and exposed it in the media, only to be denounced and threatened for doing so

The child victims/survivors are mostly victims of domestic sexual abuse or online sexual exploitation and become street children to escape the abuse and are then recruited by human traffickers and pimps.

The moral corruption in government and society that tolerates and allows this began in towns and cities around the US Naval Base in Subic Bay and Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga.

I discovered the cover-up by authorities of a syndicate selling children as young as nine years old to US sailors in 1982 and exposed it in the media, only to be denounced and threatened for doing so.

I then called and campaigned with others for the closure and conversion of the US bases to economic industrial parks. It succeeded and the bases finally closed in 1992 and the sex industry collapsed.

Yet we have recently discovered sex trafficking in the posh hotels of the Subic Bay Free Port (SBMA) and are hoping the new chairman and administrator, Rolen Paulino, will work with us to stop it once and for all.

The protest against child abuse and trafficking worldwide began and grew, culminating in the passing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations in 1989.

I was a delegate to the drafting committee in Helsinki, Finland. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child was established and the protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (OPSC) was established in 2002.

The Philippine child protection law, also known as RA 7610, was passed in 1992. Finally, the world and the Philippines were waking up to the extent of child abuse and human trafficking.

Good people everywhere have to realize that child sexual abuse is a heinous crime and causes trauma, hurt and pain that it is a lifelong burden

Only this past month, the Philippines raised the age of sexual consent from a low of 12 years of age to 16. Everyone knew a child of 12 could not give consent to a sexual act but the pedophile-minded politicians and the Catholic Church had allowed it without protest since 1930.

This column campaigned successfully for many years to change it. Now, sexual intercourse between an adult and a child below 16 years of age is classified as statutory rape with a life sentence.

Parents and relatives are the perpetrators of online sexual abuse of their own children for money that is paid through money transfers. It is one of the biggest global criminal activities with a turnover of US$99 billion in profits a year.

Good people everywhere have to realize that child sexual abuse is a heinous crime and causes trauma, hurt and pain that it is a lifelong burden. It damages and scars the personality and character of the victims/survivors unless there is therapy to release the anger, pain and hurt.

We need more people who believe in human dignity, have faith and believe in goodness, justice, human dignity, and children’s and women’s rights.

Everyone should immediately report child abuse to the authorities and to the Preda Foundation ([email protected]) or phone 091753224453 with basic information about the victim and location, and if possible information about when and where the abuse happened. Then immediate action will be taken to protect and help the child and bring the abuser to justice. We need more direct action and healing.

* The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

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