It Takes Our Prayers to End Sexual Exploitation of Children
In line with World Vision’s campaign to end Sexual Exploitation of children in the Philippines, faith-based and civil society organizations gathered to offer a moment of prayer for children who are victims of sexual abuse.
Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches National Director Bishop Noel Pantoja said faith-based organizations can tap opportunities and participate in dialogues to help advocate against the abuse of children.
“We have a role in ending violence against children. Think of our children, Think of all of these children, our prayers will change their lives“, said Pantoja.
World Vision National Director Rommel Fuerte emphasized the importance of collective prayers to break the silence on ending violence against children.
“By nearly coming together, praying, talking about the issue we are breaking that silence. It takes not just World Vision, all of us to be advocating for it to be doing something about it, to end violence against children “, said Fuerte.
Sexual Exploitation of Children
The National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children 2016 showed that 17.1% of children aged 13-18 have experienced any form of sexual violence while growing up.
This grim reality has motivated child-focused humanitarian and advocacy agency World Vision in the Philippines to launch the campaign “It Takes A World to End Sexual Exploitation of Children” in 2017.
The campaign aims to relentlessly advocate to end violence against children because our children deserve a better and safer place.
World Vision National Director Rommel Fuerte highlighted the importance of multi-sectoral response to address violence against children during a prayer event for children held at World Vision Chapel.
“Violence, physical or sexual, no matter what the form, is stealing the brighter future for every child. It takes away their dignity, their human rights, and their God-given protections”, said Fuerte.
Young TV star and World Vision ambassador Bianca Umali, led the presentation of “It Takes A World” manifesto, which cited possible actions that the community, churches, government, and families have to take to help end sexual exploitation of children.
“Iyong puso ko malapit sa mga bata and I will stand for them forever. I want to help end violence against children, it has to stop,” said Umali.
(My heart is close to children and I will stand for them forever. I want to help end violence against children, it has to stop.)
Umali commits to advocate for this issue as she helps World Vision being the new ambassador for child protection, spreading awareness and education about the campaign against sexual exploitation of children.
Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Philippines
In 2016, Unicef named the Philippines as the global epicentre of live-stream sexual abuse trade, and many of the victims are children
“Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) is the use of the child to make sexual photos, videos, or live shows of children on the internet in exchange of money,” said Atty. Sam Inocencio, National Director, International Justice Mission, partner organization of World Vision.
As of June 2018, IJM has recorded 319 victims of online sexual abuse in the Philippines. Five out of ten or 53% of the victims are children aged 12 below.
More than half or 51% of the cases recorded by IJM are sibling groups. The data of IJM also revealed that 73% the perpetuators are parents or relatives of the victims.
” What does this tell us? Children are no longer safe in our homes. Relatives are the once exposing them, exploiting them. It is hard, it is difficult. How can one exactly quantify or even qualify the pain or suffering of even one child who was sexually abused”, said Inocencio.
The accessibility of social media has further changed the landscape of sexual violence, with the increase of criminal cases of live stream child abuse in the Philippines to almost 300% between 2013 to 2015.
There is Hope
Prevention becomes the strategy to break the silence through effective awareness and education at the community level. In partnership with like-minded agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare Department (DWSD), Department of Justice (DOJ), the Philippine National Police (PNP), International Justice Mission (IJM), and the Inter-agency Against Trafficking (IACAT), projects such as the US J/TIP-funded Child Protection Compact (CPC) implemented by World Vision utilizes prevention trainings, after-care, reintegration programs, and engagement of children survivors to reduce future OSEC incidents.
It Takes A World campaign aims to reach three million children and to protect them from sexual exploitation and other forms of online and offline abuse.
World Vision is a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.