MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES, October 24, 2016 – Nine boys and girls—ranging from 2 to 10 years old—were rescued from cybersex trafficking in back-to-back operations last week.
These cases illustrate the shocking reality of online sexual exploitation: The girls and boys were quite young, abused in sibling groups, and their parents or close relatives are the primary suspects who were profiting from their abuse. In a typical cybersex trafficking case, a foreigner wires a secure payment to someone in the Philippines so that he can then direct live sexual abuse of children over the internet.
Inside the home where six children—four girls and
two boys under 10 years old—were rescued.
The FBI first uncovered images of these Filipino children when reviewing digital evidence linked to cases of online sexual exploitation against Americans. They referred the cases to Philippines law enforcement agencies to find and stop the criminal facilitators setting up these horrific shows.
Following a month-long investigation, IJM assisted the National Bureau of Investigations and FBI with an operation on October 15. Three children were rescued in this first operation, including a 2-year-old girl, her 5-year-old brother, and their 10-year-old cousin.
Children rescued in the second operation safe at the survivor center
Just days later, on October 19, IJM assisted the Philippine National police’s Women and Children Protection Center with an operation in the same area of Metro Manila. In yet another home in this crowded, low-income neighborhood, children were being routinely sexually exploited in front of a computer screen. Six children were rescued in this second operation, including four girls and two boys ranging from 5 to 9 years old.
IJM staff were on the ground to support authorities and ensure the victims were well-cared for as they settled into a safe location where they could sleep, play, and enjoy warm meals. The boys and girls will be placed at aftercare shelters in the coming days.
IJM lawyers will help public prosecutors build strong cases against the Filipinos who preyed on children in their care. Cybersex trafficking will continue to spread like a plague until laws are routinely enforced and criminal facilitators profiting from these abusive shows start to fear real consequences in court.