The number of cases recorded during the quarantine from March 1 to May 24 is 279,166.
MANILA, Philippines, May 28, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) - The number of cases of online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines has dramatically increased by more than 250 percent after stay-at-home orders were implemented during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Data from the Department of Justice Office of Cybercrime ... revealed the total of cases recorded from March 1 to May 24 reached 279,166 which is 264 percent higher than the cases recorded on the same period of 2019 at 76,561," reported PTV News. "From the 2020 record, 132,192 were recorded in March, 53,882 in April, and 93,092 in May."
As pointed out by the Manila Bulletin, "most of the cases include possession, manufacture, and distribution of child pornography; online enticement of children for sexual acts; child sex trafficking; sex tourism involving children; extra-familial child sexual molestation; unsolicited obscene material sent to a child; and misleading words or digital images on the internet."
The Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) based its statement on data provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
According to the DOJ, the enormous increase "is attributable to the fact that during the [Enhanced Community Quarantine], strict home quarantine is observed in all households, and internet usage surges as people stay home."
The DOJ noted that "there is no law in the Philippines that directly defines and penalizes" online sexual exploitation of children.
Even though sexual exploitation is on the rise in the Asian country, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said earlier this week that there will be no school until a coronavirus vaccine has been found. Without a vaccine, sending children to school "spells disaster," he claimed.
"For me, vaccine first," he added. "If the vaccine is already there, then it's okay. If no one graduates, then so be it."
"I will not allow the opening of classes where students will be near each other," Duterte said. "Unless I am sure that they are really safe, it's useless to be talking about opening of classes."
The Philippines are the world's largest known source of online sexual exploitation of children.
"A new study released by the Washington-based International Justice Mission on Thursday said Philippine cases of online child sexual exploitation have increased sharply in recent years with parents agreeing to have their own children victimized for the money," wrote ABC News.
NPR noted that also in the United States more minors were abused during the stay-at-home orders put in place by state governments.
"By the end of March, with much of the country under lockdown, there was a 22% increase in monthly calls [at the National Sexual Assault Hotline] from people younger than 18, and half of all incoming contacts were from minors."
"As a result of looking at the information that we had from those sessions, it was clear that the abuse was escalating in both frequency and severity," Camille Cooper, vice president of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, told NPR. "So a lot of the kids that were coming to the hotline were feeling pretty vulnerable and traumatized. And it was a direct result of COVID-19, because they were quarantined with their abuser. The abuser was now abusing them on a daily basis."
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