Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC)


Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC)

Children are sexually abused by traffickers who live-stream the abuse to customers from anywhere in the world willing to pay and direct the sexual abuse from their own homes. Together, we can stop it.

Before the internet, customers had to travel to the Philippines to purchase sex with a minor. Traffickers recruited vulnerable teens and coerced them to work in bars or clubs. Now, paedophiles and predators can enter the homes of Filipino children through a simple internet connection. Victims tend to be young—some under 2 years old—and the traffickers tend to be trusted family members who earn quick cash by exploiting children in their care.

The Facts arrow-simple-bottom
  • The Philippines receives thousands of thousands of reports of online child exploitation every month. [1]
  • 47% of online sexual exploitation of children victims rescued by IJM and local authorities have been 12 years old or younger. [2]
  • The youngest victim rescued by IJM and local authorities has been a 2-month-old baby. [3]
[1] Philippines Department of Justice
[2] IJM case data
[3] Ibid.

Since IJM started working in the Philippines in 2000, the government has made rapid strides to stop traffickers from exploiting children in the commercial sex trade—closing bars that sell minors for sex and bringing pimps to justice. Studies have shown the number of minors available for purchase on streets and in bars once notorious for sex trafficking has plummeted between 75% and 86% in the cities where IJM has worked.

Now the authorities need specialised training on cyber-investigations and how to care for young survivors of OSEC. This crime will keep spreading until communities start to see consequences and traffickers setting up the sexual exploitation of children are restrained.

OSEC is the live-streaming sexual exploitation of children viewed over the internet. Paedophiles and predators anywhere in the world can now search online and wire a secure payment to an adult who sets up the show. Boys and girls—some under 2 years old—are abused or forced to perform sex acts in front of a webcam. The more abusive the show, the more the customer pays.

Unlike bars or brothels with a permanent address, cybersex trafficking victims can be moved to and abused in any location with an internet connection and a webcam, or just a mobile phone. OSEC has become a terrifying cottage industry with high profit margins.

IJM combats cybersex trafficking in the Manila and Cebu, the Philippines, as well as through advocacy in Australia.

We rescue victims by helping Filipino authorities and foreign law enforcement agencies to identify and remove children from OSEC.

We bring criminals to justice. We help police investigate and gather evidence so that traffickers and criminals facilitating online sexual exploitation are restrained. We help prosecutors press charges and build strong cases using all available evidence.

We restore survivors by creating individualised care plans for survivors and working closely with a range of aftercare partners. OSEC victims can be under 2 years old, and there are more boys than in bar- or street-based trafficking. IJM social workers help place survivors in aftercare homes where they can return to school, take vocational classes, and receive ongoing therapy. In addition to providing direct client care, we are developing best practices and pioneering new tools for shelters handling OSEC cases.

We strengthen justice systems by providing hands-on mentoring for law enforcement, judges and social services. The Philippines has strong anti-trafficking laws, and we are helping to train authorities on how to implement them against this new crime type.