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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

Children are raping children because of uncontrolled Internet

by Father Shay Cullen Profiles in Catholicism

It all happened recently in a vacant lot in Bataan where a small,12-year-old boy (call him Juanito, not his real name) was invited by his cousin to watch a child abuse video on a cell phone. Juanito had Roberto with him. Immediately after watching the video, they were sexually aroused and as soon as they saw young girls six and seven years old, they decided together to go catch them. 

They ran after the young girls and Juanito caught the six-year-old, his cousin, and dragged her to an abandoned nipa hut and did what he saw in the rape video. He sexually attacked the six-year-old child. 

This is not an isolated incident of Internet and Facebook child abuse but many more go unreported. Another similar incident involved three boys, 12, 13 and 14 years old in Zambales. They watched a similar video showing child abuse on a cell phone. They also sexually assaulted a six-year- old girl by gang rape. However, because of their young age, they will not face criminally liability charges but need to be sent to a therapy center for help and psychological counseling.

What the Internet and the telecommunication corporations and the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) brought into the world is deadly, uncontrolled public platforms where anyone can post anything online. This content ignores the Philippine law, RA 11930, by allowing child sex shows and abuse images to be viewed, downloaded and distributed, and absorbed by children.

Because of public permissiveness and tolerance of sexual exploitation on-line, all but for minority of activists, the telecommunication corporations ignore the law and do what they want to make more money. If government or public outrage challenges them, they can shut down the internet with impunity. That is the basis of their power. Or they can thwart a politician’s reelection bid by boosting their opponents visibility on-line and minimizing the outspoken politician. 

As a result of uncontrolled Internet, we have children raping children. Brothers raping sisters as another most recent promulgation by Judge Gemma Theresa Hilario-Logronio of the Olongapo City Family Court proclaimed. Angela (not her real name) is a victim of multiple rape by her brother, 21 years old. He was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two rape charges and given two life sentences. Her sister also suffered multiple rape by her biological father, her uncle and another brother. They all had access to pornography videos online. 

Unicef says that 7 million children are sexually abused every year and that their figure is based on interviews and surveys. Millions more are not reported. One girl in every three is sexually abused at least once before they turn 16. One in every four boys are sexually abused before reaching 18. 

There is a NGO in Ireland dedicated to helping boy victims of sex abuse. They are the most reluctant to report abuse. Some do after many years. As boys, they suffer fear, shame and rejection in society by “victim blaming” by family members of the alleged abuser. Justice is not available. In most countries, the level of proof is so high few victims are believed and few child abusers get convicted. 

When child sex abuse becomes an unchallenged crime, it multiplies. It has become socially acceptable although everybody knows it is a crime. There are so many secret victims few are able to talk about or act to expose it. 

The laws are ignored. Some law enforcers see nothing wrong with abusing a child. That is why thousands of sex brothels and bars employ minors that earn money. The minors have little education and no prospects in life. Money from sex traffickers and bar owners is an attractive life. They get money, drugs, drink, sex, cellphones and hotel accommodation going out with sex customers. 

This is all possible with the approval of local authorities since they issue licenses and permits and possibly receive extra payment to approve the bar permit to operate the establishment and get a bar license. They ignore the trafficking and sexual exploitation going on under their noses. 

The demand of the US military for sex without restraint by Filipinos was quickly met and satisfied by authorities and traffickers as thousands of poor girls were trafficked from destitute families in the provinces and made sex slaves by debt bondage. 

All was approved by unscrupulous authorities and given social acceptance even when minors were being raped and abused from nine years old. Criticism of the sex industry or an alternative replacement of the US Base by a freeport was not tolerated. The tolerance of child abuse thrived and spread as a result.

The critics of organized trafficking crime syndicates abusing children was challenged. In 1992, the Anti-Child Abuse Law or RA n7610 was passed. Until 2022, the age of consent was only 12 years old. 

Sex tourists flocked to the Philippines and raped children and families that benefited, if challenged, the parents force the child to say “I love him” and case dismissed. Now with the new law, any sexual intercourse with a child below 16 years of age is statutory rape, no bail and life in prison awaits the abuser if found guilty. The child only has to provide the information and say “He had sex with me.” The law is being well implemented in some courts and changing lives of abused children. Many more have to follow. 

Prostitution is illegal in the Philippines but it is totally tolerated but trafficking people into it and employing victims of trafficking carries a life sentence. This is the contradiction of Philippine society. It seems to say “Go ahead and do evil but pay the price if caught”. 

According to Unicef, ECPAT International and Interpol, 90 percent of child sex abuse and exploitation originates on Facebook. In the Philippines, more than 2 million children were sexually abused and exploited online in 2022. The founder and owner of Facebook has a lot to answer for as there were so many suicides by children after having met people on Facebook. A US senator told him that he has “blood on his hands.”

Uncontrolled social platforms, unguarded Internet access, failure of telecoms and ISPs to install blocking software on their servers, allowed the abusive material to reach 12-year olds, enticing them to go rape six-year-olds.

When will the nation wake up and force the telecoms and the social media companies that rule the Philippines be brought to respect the Filipino people and obey the law? Brave indeed is the leader who can do that.


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