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De Lima: Rise of online sexual exploitation of minors should be addressed

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By Hannah Torregoza

Opposition Senator Leila de Lima today called on lawmakers to convene and tackle the alarming rise of online sexual exploitation involving minors.

Senator Leila de Lima (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senator Leila de Lima (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)

De Lima urged the Congressional oversight committee on Republic Act (RA) 9775, also known as the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, to immediately convene and address the issue and check if the provisions of the law are being strictly implemented.

A known anti-human trafficking advocate, De Lima said the oversight committee should also propose necessary remedial measures that will strengthen the country’s fight against child abuse online.

The senator said that in spite of existing laws penalizing such bestial acts, the proliferation of child pornography in the country continues, and even worsens.

“It is important to determine what needs to be done to ensure that law enforcement agencies are able to keep up with the challenges posed by new and emerging technologies,” she said in the explanatory note of Senate Resolution 599 she filed.

She said the law was enacted to “guarantee the fundamental rights of every child from all forms of neglect, cruelty and other conditions prejudicial to his/her development and protect every child from all forms of exploitation and abuse,” including the use of a child in explicit sexual activities.

In her resolution, De Lima said the Congressional oversight committee on RA 9775 should ensure that the private sector is effectively being tapped and motivated to help combat the online exploitation and abuse of children.

She said getting the participation of the private sector—particularly telecommunication companies—can be successful through the provision of adequate incentives and mechanisms to facilitate their cooperation, and penalties for their undue failure to assist and cooperate with law enforcement agencies in combating these heinous crimes.

She noted that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in its 2017 State of the World’s Children Report, cited the intensifying risks caused by the digital age on childhood, such as “made-to-order” child sexual abuse material and live streaming of child sexual abuse..

Based on the 2017 UNICEF report, new technologies – like crypto-currencies and the Dark web – are fueling live streaming of child sexual abuse and other harmful content, and challenging the ability of law enforcement to keep up, according to De Lima.

“Children and their parents should be aware of, and capacitated to guard against, the harms posed by the exposure of children to digital technology, including the dangers posed by the three main online risk categories,” De Lima said, referring to the “Content, Contact and Conduct Risks” as categorized by the 2017 UNICEF report.

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