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9 Children Rescued from Remote Island in the Philippines, Thanks to Canadian Tip

2017, cybersex trafficking, rescue, sex trafficking, Southeast Asia, the Philippines

Written by IJM
Posted on 16 November 2017 under Recent posts, Sex trafficking.

15 November 2017

One little girl was hidden behind a door. Another was riding her bike in the neighbourhood. Another was at a Girl Scouts meeting. But IJM and Philippine authorities found them all, bringing nine children total to safety. Ranging from 2 to 9 years old, the girls and boys had been victims of cybersex trafficking.

The investigation began with a tip from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They had uncovered a case of cybersex trafficking, involving a Canadian man who would apparently pay a woman in the Philippines to direct and view live-streamed sexual abuse of young children.

Thanks to a new grant from the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Office that expands IJM’s project area to include remote cybersex trafficking hotspots, the team was able to support the Visayas Unit of the Philippine Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC). They built a case using online techniques, then travelled by car and ferry a few hundred kilometres to rescue the children.

On Friday 10 November, police caught the suspect in a sting operation as she offered to exploit her 8-year-old daughter. She had also described other forms of sexual abuse that foreign customers could pay to watch, saying she could get children of “any age.”

Scenes from inside the house where the woman was apparently offering young children for online sexual exploitation. Numbered cards mark evidence.

“This was a family business. The suspect deserves to go to jail for what she did,” said Colonel Romeo Perigo, of the WCPC Visayas Field Unit.

“This operation is the clear message that WCPC wants to send to every facilitator/perpetrator of this crime. We mean business … that is, put you behind bars and make you accountable for every act of exploitation you commit and every dream of children you destroyed,” added Police Superintendent Maria Sheila T. Portento, of the WCPC Operations Management Division.

IJM and government social workers were on site to escort the children safely to vans, offering them brightly-coloured scarves to shield them from neighbours and onlookers. Survivors of cybersex trafficking need targeted therapy and a safe place to recover and rebuild trust, particularly in cases like this one where the criminal was mother or aunt to most of the victims.

The house where the suspect was arrested and children were rescued was located on an island far outside Cebu, where IJM’s office is based.

The suspect was arrested and will face trafficking charges that could carry a lifetime prison sentence.

“Law enforcement is actively tracking down victims of cybersex trafficking wherever they are, so that these vulnerable children can live a childhood free from perverse sexual exploitation and abuse at the hands of their own parents, relatives and neighbours,” said IJM Cebu Field Office Director John Tanagho.

Australian politicians are taking action to protect children from cybersex trafficking and violence around the world, with tough new laws being considered by federal parliament. Tell them this issue matters to you and that you're grateful for their initiative by signing IJM's giant THANK YOU card.

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International Justice Mission is a global organisation that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems.

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