SMACK IN THE MIDDLE: Child abuse in Philippines
by Sean Chong
IT’S a billion-dollar industry in the Philippines, and growing. Live-streaming child porn is enabled by a nation with good Internet access, smartphone penetration, English proficiency and a well-developed network for international money transfers, but which at the same time also suffers from the desperation of poverty and a weakness in laws and controls. Live-streamed child pornography is even harder to detect and punish – the process leaves no trace of pornography on the abuser’s computers, which makes gathering evidence much more difficult. Tens of thousands of children are estimated to be involved in this flesh trade, many of whom are pressed into what amounts to slavery by their own parents for between US$5 and 200 a “show” – just another way to keep the family fed. It becomes the new normal for children, who then tell their friends and neighbours. Soon, whole neighbourhoods get in on the idea to make ends meet. Some rescued children see nothing wrong with what they do and are even resentful of authorities who rescue them and lock their parents away. Can the Philippines put an end to such a deep-rooted problem?
Featured image by Sean Chong.
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