Victims, including children, are rescued in an operation made possible by information from Australian police
by Rappler.com, 23 May 2020
MANILA, Philippines – Law enforcers arrested a 28-year-old woman in Butuan City for offering to livestream the sexual abuse of children and an adult for cash.
The arrest was made around 9 am on Thursday, May 21, by the Philippine National Police’s Women and Children Protection Center – Mindanao Field Unit (WCPC-MFU).
Seven victims and 6 other children suspected of having been abused by the woman were taken by authorities and given trauma-informed crisis intervention by the Caraga regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Their ages ranged from one to 19 years old. Like in many other cases of online sexual exploitation, the children were a mix of family members, relatives, and neighbors of the suspect. (READ: Online sexual exploitation of children in PH tripled in 3 years – study)
The woman was caught offering to livestream the sexual exploitation of 4 minors and an adult.
Police operatives seized electronic devices and money transfer receipts as evidence from the suspect’s residence. Firearms were also found in the house. The suspect’s male live-in partner was also arrested for illegally possessing them.
Crossborder cooperation. The operation was made possible by information from the Australian Federal Police which had knowledge of the Australian national who was paying the Filipino suspect money in exchange for videos, photos, and livestreams of children being sexually violated. (FAST FACTS: Why online sexual exploitation of children happens in the Philippines)
The Australian police sent their information to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC) which brings together local and foreign law enforcers and the private sector to fight online sexual exploitation of children. Earlier in May, Philippine authorities arrested a sex trafficker in Caloocan after they received a tip from Australian police.
The group is comprised of the Philippine police’s Women and Children Protection Center, National Bureau of Investigation – Anti-Human Trafficking Division, the Australian Federal Police, and the United Kingdom National Crime Agency.
It works with the non-governmental organization, International Justice Mission.
There have been many more arrests of online sexual abusers during the coronavirus lockdown. (READ: During coronavirus lockdown: Abused women, children more vulnerable)
Christine Tan, chief of the Women and Children Protection Center in Mindanao, highlighted the vulnerability of children forced to stay at home with their abusers.
“Some people in lockdown maybe enjoying while they spend more time with their families in the comfort of their homes. But for others, especially victims of OSEC (online sexual exploitation of children), this pandemic has become their worst nightmare,” she said.
“This pandemic, as well as poverty, should never be an excuse to abuse and use children as a source of living,” she added. – Rappler.com