shield arrow-simple-alt-top arrow-simple-alt-left arrow-simple-alt-right arrow-simple-alt-bottom facebook instagram linkedin medium pinterest rss search-alt shaper twitter video-play arrow-long-right arrow-long-left arrow-long-top arrow-long-bottom arrow-simple-right arrow-simple-left arrow-simple-bottom readio arrow-simple-top speaker-down plus minus cloud hb pin camera globe cart rotate Group-35 star edit arrow-top arrow-right arrow-left arrow-bottom check search Close square speaker-up speaker-mute return play pause love new-tab equalizer

Wave of Rulings Ushers in Justice for Vulnerable Children

In just the first month of the year, bold judgments in Philippine courts are protecting children across the country— and global collaboration is tackling a form of modern slavery that was unimaginable before the digital age.

January’s trafficking convictions, secured in courts across the Philippines, held four Filipina women accountable for abusing and exploiting children, and sharing that abuse with predators around the world who were willing to pay.

The Philippine government receives thousands of cybersex trafficking case referrals like these every month—cases in which paying customers around the world can easily connect online with an adult in the Philippines who has access to vulnerable children. With just an internet connection and a webcam or mobile device, these traffickers in the Philippines abuse boys and girls, or force them to perform sex acts, for the foreign customers who are paying to watch.

Tragically, the cases reaching judgment last month represent more than a dozen young survivors—the youngest only 3 years old.

'Before, I felt hurt, ashamed, angry and sad,' said Alejandra*, as she heard news that her trafficker had pled guilty. 'Now that I was able to talk with [the convicted trafficker] and she asked for forgiveness, I feel happy and lightness in my heart.' She added that she is committed to healing and reaching for her dream of becoming an engineer.

Gabrielle*, whose mother pled guilty to trafficking and child pornography charges, shared that her prayer was answered when she was 15—when IJM and officers from the Philippine National Police were able to find and rescue her. 'I prayed that the abuse would stop,' she said in her native language of Cebuano. [The abuse] started five years before I was rescued.'

Tackling Modern Slavery, One Case at a Time

For Gabrielle, her escape from this world of abuse started in Australia, as the Australian Federal Police arrested a man who allegedly solicited exploitative materials of children online. When police uncovered that he had been wiring money to a woman in the Philippines in exchange for explicit materials showing her teenage daughter, they immediately referred the case to the Philippine government.

IJM supported Philippine authorities as they built a case against the woman, and in May 2017, police caught her in the act of offering to sexually exploit Gabrielle in exchange for money from another foreigner online. Police quickly rescued Gabrielle and arrested her mother.

The other cybersex trafficking cases that ended with convictions this month are heartbreakingly similar. A ruling on the 25th of January held two women accountable after they pled guilty to trafficking and child abuse. On the day the women were arrested, police brought six children between the ages of 1 and 10 to safety. Following the ruling, Assistant City Prosecutor Fiscal Jasmin Diaz shared, 'I am happy with the outcome of this case. The survivors can now have a sense of justice, which I hope would help them in their journey towards recovery and healing.'

A ruling on the 31st of January sentenced another young woman to 15 years in prison after she pled guilty to trafficking two girls.

A New Reality of Accountability for Traffickers

Securing strong convictions and meaningful sentences are critical to deterring other would-be criminals from trafficking vulnerable children. This movement in the Philippine courts is a sign that the country remains committed to stopping this form of modern slavery—even when the cases are complicated, involving young children exploited by their family and neighbors, and require international collaboration to build strong cases.

Become a Freedom Partner Today

You might also be interested in…

About Stories see more
Four children rescued from online sexual exploitation |

4 children were brought to SAFETY from #onlinechildsexualabuse, thanks to IJM and trained police. One male suspect (the uncle of the four victims) has been arrested on charges of their abuse.

IJM's Official Statement on Apple's Child Safety Measures

Apple’s recently announced proposal of new child safety measures has been the source of much debate. While the proposed new measures are imperfect, IJM believes that it is a positive step forward which should not be delayed.

'Falling Short': Sentences for UK sex offenders who livestream sexual abuse of Filipino children do not fit the crime

Read IJM's latest report. Help stop online sexual exploitation of children.

IJM partners provide financial support for 166 OSEC Survivor Families

Hope is paramount to a survivor's journey to restoration. And, the Consuelo Foundation (CZAF), in collaboration with IJM, has been able to bring that hope to 166 families of OSEC survivors (online sexual exploitation of children) during the global pandemic.

You Can Help Send Rescue Today.

When you give a gift today, you’ll be fighting slavery, violence, and injustice across the globe. Together, we can end slavery and violence in our lifetime.

You can make the most impact as a Freedom Partner today.

Your generous monthly support will help send rescue to vulnerable children and families at a moment’s notice, stand with them as they rebuild their lives in freedom and have perpetrators held accountable.


Donor Portal

Review your giving, tax statements and contact info via the IJM Donor Portal.

please sign in
Email Sign Up
Get updates from IJM on stories from the field, events in your area and opportunities to get involved.
sign up