Lapu-Lapu City, THE PHILIPPINES – A Philippine court has sentenced a 31-year-old woman to serve 15 years in prison for exploiting her own niece in exchange for money online.
This was the conclusion of a case that started with a search warrant by the Women and Children Protection Center Visayas Field Unit (WCPC-VFU) of the Philippine National Police in November 2016. Police had searched two adjacent houses, discovering child sexual exploitation materials (CSEM), as well as drug residue and paraphernalia. The officers had seized a smartphone and a tablet belonging to the suspect. Contained in these devices were several CSEM in which one of the sexually exploited children was identified as the perpetrator’s own niece.
These simultaneous operations in 2016 not only led to the arrest of the perpetrator for possession of (CSEM) but also led to the subsequent filing of a case of qualified trafficking in persons against her in 2017.
At the trial, plea bargaining once again proved to be an effective child-protective legal strategy to secure justice for the victim. It facilitates the victim’s journey to healing and restoration like the private complainant in this case, while ensuring perpetrator accountability.
Atty. Lucille Dejito, Director of IJM Cebu Field Office, reacting to the turn-around of events said that: “This type of crime happens in communities and such is the case here where two neighbours, the accused and another one earlier convicted, who abused children in their communities but now have been finally restrained. Effective law enforcement through arrests, prosecution and conviction of criminals, is a strong deterrence that will keep the children in our communities safe from online sexual exploitation.”
The court also ordered the woman to pay a fine of not between 500,000 and 1 million pesos (A$13,500-27,000).
The survivor from the case is currently staying in a government-accredited shelter undergoing the necessary trauma informed intervention to begin the path towards restoration.
Learn more about IJM’s work combatting online sexual exploitation of children here.
*A stock photo has been used to protect the identity of the survivor.
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