“I just thought we were having a show.” Fuelled by poverty Poverty is a key driving factor behind the international trade in live stream child sexual abuse.
Around one in three people in Manila live in slums, where makeshift houses made of wood, metal sheets and cardboard are often piled three or four storeys high alongside rivers and rubbish dumps.
The live stream child sexual abuse, also known as webcam sex tourism, was organized by an ‘operator’ living in the house, who was also the mother of one of the children. Foreign perpetrators would send her money by international wire transfer, and she would pay children 150 pesos (US).
The other three children were also living with the operator while their mother worked outside Manila.
“This has been going on a few years now, but we’re seeing more and more cases,” says Sarah Norton-Staal, Chief of Child Protection at UNICEF Philippines.
In the slums of Manila, a police raid of a child sexual exploitation operation illuminates the challenges the country faces in protecting vulnerable children and prosecuting their abusers.
These areas are prime targets for criminal activity.
In the Manila slum where Jennifer and Danilo lived, it was an open secret that live stream sexual abuse was happening.
These areas have been the focus of arrests and interventions.
UNICEF Philippines is conducting research on the issue, funding training for police and NGOs, helping to establish a national helpline, and advocating for stronger national policies.