Issue Brief – Online Sexual Exploitation of Children: Characteristics and drivers in the Philippines
Rapid technological change has provided exponential growth of internet connectivity worldwide, ready access to advanced technology and online payment mechanisms, and opportunities to operate online with anonymity. In many countries, protections for vulnerable children from related harms have not kept pace with these advancements, resulting in an epidemic of cases of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC). One of the most prevalent forms of OSEC is live streaming – or on demand child sexual abuse – where child sexual activities are transmitted by a “facilitator” – usually, though not necessarily, a victim’s relative, neighbour or close friend – through webcam or audio interface and watched and directed remotely in real-time by paying viewers from another country.
In this issue brief, we examine the literature and evidence around the characteristics and determinants of OSEC – focusing on the Philippines, a global epicentre of OSEC facilitation. We review the prevailing policy approaches adopted by the Filipino authorities, international organisations, and civil society actors in this fight and conclude by sharing details of an important study we have underway. This study promises to strengthen our understanding of OSEC facilitation and enhance the effectiveness of efforts to prevent, disrupt and prosecute this form of trafficking in the Philippines, and in other nations with similar contextual conditions.