Sunday, 24 November 2019, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — International Justice Mission (IJM), the world’s largest international anti-slavery organisation, has begun discussions with Westpac on how it can partner in the fight to combat the online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC), also known as cybersex trafficking of children, within the Philippines and beyond.
Throughout low to middle-income nations around the world, the rapid growth of internet accessibility, increased use of mobile devices, high number of vulnerable children, and access to easy online payment mechanisms has facilitated the emergence of a new criminal activity: online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC), also known as cybersex trafficking of children. While the Philippines has become the epicentre of the supply side of this crime, the demand is global and too often goes undetected, traversing borders because of technology, endangering the most vulnerable.
IJM was one of the early identifiers and responders to this unique crime-type when it began emerging in force in 2011. IJM and the Philippines government have implemented a holistic, results-based program to combat OSEC alongside law enforcement agencies internationally, local and international civil society organisations, and local community leaders. Through IJM’s existing casework and system capacity building efforts, we have begun to see meaningful impact within the Philippines and will now further look to extend this into other communities affected by the crime of OSEC.
“We welcome Australians and Australian business into the fight, as they increasingly step up and take action against this heinous crime. Whilst Australians may be part of the global community fuelling the demand for the online sexual exploitation of children (cybersex trafficking of children) this shows that the means they use to do it will be stopped and reverse actions will be taken,” says Ms Caroly Houmes, Chief Executive, IJM Australia.
IJM program teams apply learnings from our casework to design capacity building interventions that help governments sustainably protect vulnerable children from violence through consistent law enforcement and building a network of trauma-informed care for survivors at the local level. Since 2011, IJM has supported 153 OSEC operations in which 559 victims were rescued, 235 suspects were arrested, and 73 convictions were secured for OSEC. In over 69% of these cases, the perpetrator in the Philippines is the parent, relative, close family friend, or neighbour of the victim(s). 44% of victims in IJM-supported OSEC cases are 12 years or younger, with the youngest victim IJM has rescued being a 2-month old baby.
Atty Sam Inocencio, IJM Philippines National Director stated, “Westpac’s partnership with IJM can be significant in accelerating the progress in the fight against OSEC both in the Philippines and around the world, thus resulting in the greater protection of vulnerable children.”
IJM welcomes Westpac’s efforts to remedy the recent allegations and supports their strong efforts to make a positive and dramatic impact in ending OSEC. We hope that partnerships such as these will encourage the global business community and governments to prioritise and invest in child protection.
Download this media release as a pdf.
About International Justice Mission:
International Justice Mission is the largest international anti-slavery organisation working in 19 program offices in 11 countries across the developing world to combat slavery, trafficking, and other forms of violence against the poor. IJM works to rescue and restore victims, hold perpetrators accountable, and help transform broken public justice systems. Learn more at: www.ijm.org.au
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