A Call To End Online Sexual Exploitation of Children #ShutDownOSEC

online sexual exploitation of children
Courtesy of Child Rights Network

Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) is an alarming problem our society faces today. In many parts of the world, children have easy access to mobile gadgets and online social media. The availability of these components facilitates the increasing number of online sexual exploitation of children.

The United States Federal Government stands strong to combat the online sexual exploitation of children together with human trafficking. Quoting from the Executive Order on Combating Human Trafficking and Online Child Exploitation in the United States: “To this end, it shall be the policy of the executive branch to prioritize its resources to vigorously prosecute offenders, to assist victims, and to provide prevention education to combat human trafficking and online sexual exploitation of children.”

The EU OSEC Study

The European Union financed a study of the ECPAT International and INTERPOL between 2016 and 2018. It analyzed the information recorded for more than one million media files of child sexual exploitation and abuse material in the International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) Database.

The summary report titled Towards a Global Indicator on Unidentified Victims in Child Exploitation Material showed the statistical data of child victims and sexual offenders.

  • In the 72.5% of cases where victim gender was recorded:
    • 64.8% of unidentified media files depicted female
    • 31.1% depicted male children
    • 4.1% both male and female victims
    • If the abuse involved boys, it was more likely to be severe or include paraphilic themes.
  •  When it comes to victim ethnicity
    • 6% of the analyzed series featured white children
    • 10.1% Hispanic or Latino children, 9.9% Asian children
    • 2.1% depicted black victims
    • 1.3% represented children of multiple ethnicities.
  • The study found a link between the age of the victim and the severity of abuse.
    • When victims were younger, the abuse was more likely to be severe.
  • With the offender ethnicity, in determining less than 25% of cases where the determination was possible:
    • 78.8% of offenders were white
    • 12.2%  Hispanic-Latino
    • 4.2% black
    • 3.2% Asian.
  • In 34,474 images or videos, the offender identification was recorded and known to law enforcement.
    • Where the victim was identified, in 5.3% of cases, the offender was not identified.
    • Due to the different online and offline means available to abuse children complicate efforts to identify them and their abusers even further.
  • 2% of the analyzed series depicted the sexual abuse of children.
    • While 15.2% of series comprised materials depicting the exploitative sexual activity.

ECPAT International is a global network of 102 civil society organizations and coalitions in 93 countries. It has one goal – to end the sexual exploitation of children around the world. INTERPOL is the world’s largest international police organization, headquartered in Lyon, France and with 192 member countries.

#ShutdownOSEC Movement

In Asia, the Philippines launches the #ShutdownOSEC campaign: a call to end the on-line sexual exploitation of children (OSEC). An alliance to totally eradicate OSEC urge the Philippine government to take stronger actions. Child Rights Network (CRN), as the leading agency for the advocacy, with ChildFund, Plan International, and UNICEF, encourage policymakers to make OSEC a legislative priority.

The movement came about as the Philippines turns into a global epicenter of the online sexual exploitation of children. Uploading, sharing, and selling online images and videos of naked, sexualized, and abused Filipino children becomes rampant. The number of victims continues to increase.

According to SaferkidsPH, 80% of Filipino children are victims of cyber violence. Online sharing and selling of images of Filipino children being sexually abused, reached to at least 600,000 in 2018.

SaferKidsPH is the pioneering consortium composed of the Australian Embassy, Save the Children Philippines, The Asia Foundation, and the United Nations Children’s Fund. It aims to reduce online sexual abuse and exploitation of children in the Philippines.

Their study found out that the involvement of the child’s family and the increasing numbers of foreign perpetrators contribute to the rising number of OSEC in the Philippines. Poverty, availability of smartphones and the internet, social norms, changing parenting dynamics, and ease in speaking English remain the key factors to be exposed to OSEC openly.

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