CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES
18 June 2018
A Filipina woman, who created and sold sexual abuse images and videos of children online to Australians, Americans, and Germans, was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison on 6 June 2018 after pleading guilty to trafficking minors.
Vilma* entered a plea bargain before a Cebu City court, pleading guilty to trafficking crimes that carry a 20-year sentence. She admitted to live-streaming the sexual abuse of Filipino children online to foreign customers in exchange for payments ranging from 500-21,000 pesos (between approximately $10-$400).
Vilma’s conviction is the latest in a series of successful prosecutions against cybersex trafficking criminals in the Philippines, who exploit children for customers around the world to watch online and even direct live abuse.
At the sentencing on 6 June, Vilma acknowledged her crime and admitted her fault to the victims.
Successful Operation Secures Arrest, Rescue of Four Victims
The path to this conviction began with the arrest of an Australian man, Ian Turner, in 2016. Turner was later convicted of four offences and sentenced to four years and six months in prison - eligible for parole in two years. He had been live-streaming sex abuse, which officials traced back to Vilma. The Australian Federal Police referred the case to Filipino authorities who engaged IJM's team in Cebu for help.
IJM and officials arrested Vilma in Cordova, a small city just outside of Cebu, on September 8, 2016.
The children are receiving the care they need, such as therapy, from the Philippines government, a private shelter and IJM.
In a sworn affidavit, one of the rescued victims described how Vilma forced her and other children to perform sexual acts via live-streamed video in an abandoned store belonging to Vilma’s partner. She had been abusing the children for several years before police rescued them.
The traumatic effects of this exploitation can be devastating. Today, the children are studying in school and looking towards the future. IJM social workers walk with survivors of trafficking, like these children, and ensure they receive the care and therapy they need to heal.
Cybersex trafficking is the sexual abuse of young boys and girls streamed live over the internet, and it is escalating at a dramatic pace across the Philippines. Between 2014 and 2015, the number of case referrals of cybersex trafficking to the Philippines Department of Justice doubled, and the abuse continues to spread. Paedophiles located anywhere in the world can search online and pay to direct live sexual abuse of children. The abuse is set up by Philippine adults who most often prey on children already in their network—nieces and nephews, neighbors and even their own children.
* a pseudonym
International Justice Mission protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors and strengthen justice systems. Our team has helped local officials combat sexual exploitation and abuse of children in the Philippines since 2001, and together we've brought hundreds of children and young women to freedom.
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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.Find out more