Combating child sexual exploitation in the Philippines pornography trade
By Rob McBride
The World Congress III against the Sexual Exploitation of Children, set for 25-28 November 2008 in Brazil, aims to promote international cooperation for more effective action on sexual exploitation. Here is one in a series of related stories.
MANILA and CEBU, Philippines, 17 November 2008 – At a shopping mall in Makati, Manila, a raid targeting child pornography begins. Sifting through some of the thousands of pirated DVDs is child rights campaigner Senator M.A. Madrigal.
It is not long before she finds what she’s looking for.
“Well it looks like she’s four years old, and this looks like an eight-year-old child and the four-year-old child having sex,” Ms. Madrigal says, looking at the DVDs. “It is happening that children are being used as sex toys – those children are being used as sex commodities. The younger they are, the more saleable they are.”
Legislating against child pornography
Pornographic titles are widely available throughout the Philippines – a country that lacks a law aimed specifically at preventing child pornography.
Along with other groups and law enforcement agencies, Ms. Madrigal is pushing for legislation that would tackle the problem. The move is supported by UNICEF, which is also working with partners around the country to protect children from the pornography trade.
One of those partners, a non-governmental organization known as the Share a Child Movement, provides poor and vulnerable children with educational opportunities to help them escape poverty and exploitation.
“We have this young people’s organization, which is really helping all children become aware of the risks of all forms of abuse and violence against children,” says Share A Child’s founder and Executive Director, attorney Nina Valenzona.
Peer educators share experiences
At schools in Cebu, in the central Philippines, an innovative peer-education project teaches adolescents about the dangers they face.
“With adults, sometimes the children would be shy and wouldn’t share their experiences, but with children leading the sessions, it becomes easier to communicate,” explains child rights advocate Marianne Angana.
Ultimately, these projects aim to make forms of child sexual exploitation such as pornography illegal – and to help create a safer environment for all children in the Philippines.