Online Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Philippines

Online Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Philippines

Online Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Philippines

Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) is a complex hidden crime that is particularly challenging for the global community to measure and address. The lack of global OSEC data, the inconsistency in data collection, sharing and analysis across agencies, and the complexity of internet-facilitated crimes has made it almost impossible to accurately study and understand this crime. Yet, accurate information about its nature and scale is critical for informing and measuring the impact of stakeholder interventions to protect vulnerable children from ongoing exploitation and more effectively prevent this crime. To both set a baseline of the existing global data and catalyze future research efforts, International Justice Mission (IJM) brought together leading agencies from across multiple disciplines as well as research experts to collaboratively take on this challenge: examine existing data sources and research methodologies in order to provide meaningful information about this crime that would be valuable for understanding its scale as well as informing interventions to combat it.

This report presents the results of a 2019 study into the nature and scale of OSEC in the Philippines. This study was led by IJM, in partnership with the Philippine Government and a variety of stakeholders, under the U.S.-Philippine Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership between the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Government of the Philippines. IJM is grateful for the extraordinary participation of the 15 partners representing governments, law enforcement, researchers, and non-governmental organizations, who generously shared their data and case histories, consulted on study methodology, and shared their expertise in the implementation and review of this study. This collaboration sets a strong foundation for future efforts to more effectively study and combat this global and local crime.

For the purposes of this study, OSEC is defined as the production, for the purpose of online publication or transmission, of visual depictions (e.g., photos, videos, live streaming) of the sexual abuse or exploitation of a minor for a third party who is not in the physical presence of the victim, in exchange for compensation.

This study examines data from across three major sources – CyberTipline reports submitted by electronic service providers (ESPs) to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), a survey of OSEC cases investigated by some of the law enforcement agencies engaged in the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), and the case files of OSEC cases originating in the Philippines that have been referred to or investigated by Philippine law enforcement agencies. Together, these data illuminate both the nature and scale of online sexual exploitation of children and provide a clearer understanding of the criminals and victims involved, as well as how and where crimes may be occurring.

Study partners assessed numerous methodological options before agreeing upon the approaches taken in this study. As a result, the partners selected three major research objectives to include within this study. Each objective was achieved through a separate study methodology.

1. Estimate the baseline prevalence of internet-based child sexual exploitation (CSE) and OSEC in the Philippines

Employ a mark-recapture methodology with data from NCMEC CyberTipline reports to estimate the number and percent of Philippine IP addresses used for CSE generally and OSEC specifically.

2. Assess the nature of OSEC in the Philippines during the baseline time period

Conduct an in-depth casefile review of OSEC cases investigated by Philippine law enforcement agencies, in order to gather data on the offending process and create offender and victim typologies based on previous cases.

3. Examine the Philippines as a global hotspot for OSEC during the baseline time period

Analyze data from global law enforcement agencies and from NCMEC CyberTipline reports that were classified as involving incidents of “online enticement” to better understand OSEC cases in the Philippines as compared to the global context.

Read the full report here.

International Justice Mission is a global organization that protects people in poverty from violence. We partner with local authorities in 24 program offices in 14 countries to combat trafficking and slavery, violence against women and children, and police abuse of power.