Liza Soberano fights online predators exploiting kids during COVID-19 lockdown

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - May 22, 2020 - 12:27pm

MANILA, Philippines — Kapamilya actress Liza Soberano channeled her “rage” against the online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) into concrete action.

Related: 'I am enraged': Liza Soberano seeks help for child exploitation victims due to lockdown

The 22-year-old on Friday morning joined Sen. Risa Hontiveros and other children's rights advocates to spread awareness about the increasing prevalence of child sexual exploitation before and during the lockdown due to novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Hindi ko po lubos kayang or ma-comprehend na nagagawa po ng mga tao 'yun. Because I'm aware that it's happening on the dark web, pero hindi po ako aware na nangyayari din po siya sa mga social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter,” she said during the “Not For Sale: Protecting our children from online sexual exploitation” webinar aired live on Risa’s Facebook page.

As an older sister to seven younger siblings, Liza said she was motivated to use her influence to do something about the underreported abuse victimizing local youth.

“It was my first time, first-hand seeing people actually selling these photos, videos, graphic images about children and I'm upset on my part na hindi ko alam na nangyayari siya and I could have done something earlier to prevent those from happening by using my platform,” Liza lamented.

“I actually am also upset that I shouldn't be surprised because given the advancement in technology and social media that we have nowadays, dapat naisip na natin 'yun na posible siyang mangyari through those outlets and it could be prevented, and we could have spread more awareness throughout people.”

The senator and Chairperson of the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality wrote to the National Bureau of Investigation on Monday to respond immediately to the proliferation of child sexual exploitation material, said to have "dramatically spiked" during the quarantine period in the Philippines.

According to a study released yesterday by the International Justice Mission, OSEC in the country worsened in recent years, with 43 out of every 10,000 local Internet Protocol (IP) addresses being used for child sexual exploitation in 2014, tripling to 149 out of every 10,000 in 2017.

The Philippines is the largest known source of OSEC cases, receiving more than eight times as many referrals as any other country based on global law enforcement data.

The study, which analyzed 90 cases of OSEC between 2011 and 2017, involved 381 victims with the median age of only 11 years old — below the already low minimum age of legal sexual intercourse at 12 years old locally.

OSEC was also described as “usually a family-based crime” since biological parents and other relatives facilitated the abuse of a signification portion of all victims.

In cases were the exact length of abuse was documented, the average was two years with the highest at four years.

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