New law protects children from sexual violence online

World Vision lauds the enactment of Republic Act 11930, also known as the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM) Act. The newly signed law ensures that every child is protected from all forms of abuse and exploitation, especially those committed with the use of information and communications technology (ICT).

In 2020, World Vision in the Philippines published the research entitled Community Perspectives on Online Sexual Exploitation of Children which highlighted the crucial role of the community in amplifying surveillance and improving reporting of crimes, facilitating rescues, reintegration and restoration of children victim-survivors. The House of Representatives referred to this study during the congressional inquiry on the “reported increase in online exploitation of children in the country during the COVID-19 enhanced community quarantine.” In the same year, the International Justice Mission (IJM) released a ground-breaking study confirming Philippines as a global hotspot for online sexual exploitation of children.1

“We are grateful to the legislators, civil society organizations and advocates who rallied with us for the passing of RA 11930 in hopes of creating a safer community for all children. World Vision also commits to partner with local government units and implementing bodies in ensuring that this law is able to serve its purpose,” says World Vision National Director Rommel V. Fuerte.

According to the United States National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, despite the dip in the number of cyber tips the Department of Justice-Office of Cybercrime in the Philippines received between 2018 and 2019, there was a 260% increase in 2020 since the start of lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Children as young as 3 months old were also reported to have experienced online sexual abuse and exploitation, forced by their parents, relatives, and neighbors.2

“Many cases of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) are facilitated by parents, older siblings, or relatives. World Vision actively supported the passing of RA 11930 which penalizes individuals involved in the creation or production of any form of OSAEC and CSAEM regardless of the consent of the child,” shares Jezreel Hannah Domingo, World Vision Child Protection Manager.

The Anti-OSAEC and Anti-CSAEM law also details the duties and responsibilities of private sectors including Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Internet Content Hosts, Social Networking Sites, and banking and financial institutions. This inclusion will enable the government to work with the private sector in blocking child sexual abuse or exploitation materials and ensuring that safeguards are in place to prevent or detect recruitment and trafficking.

“We are hopeful that with the passing of this new law and with our collective effort as a community, we will be able to create an environment where children are not only protected, but are also nurtured,” says World Vision Operations Director Ajab-Aram Macapagat.

Other efforts of World Vision to address violence against children include: (1) It Takes a World Campaign, a global movement that aims to protect children from harm and abuse with a focus on OSEC prevention in the Philippines, and (2) Project Against Child Exploitation (ACE), a project which aims to support the efforts of the Philippine government to address the worst forms of child labor including online sexual exploitation of children.