Unpleasant as it is we must not turn the page, look away and ignore this social evil that is destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of children and families. The spread of child sexual abuse all over the world is a terrible crime that few want to acknowledge and fight.
The high number of trafficked children, abducted and sold into the sex trade in developed and developing countries is unbelievable but at least 2.5 million are thought to be victimized at any given time and more are added to that list daily. The fact that so little is spent and done to combat it is an indictment of the international community and national government officials who tolerate it. Officials actually promote and license the establishments that foster sex tourism and human trafficking.
Hundreds of thousands of sex tourists from developed countries come to Southeast Asia every year to engage in pernicious acts of child sexual abuse and sex trafficking. The Philippines is notorious for these crimes of human trafficking and child abuse and many customers are coming from international pedophile rings. They abuse the children, make videos and sell them online. The international authorities do little to intervene and local authorities seem to condone and promote the trade in young people in the sex industry.
The institutional Catholic Church fails to challenge sufficiently this pernicious evil that destroys the fabric of family life. People of all beliefs and principles, social justice advocates and those who value human rights and dignity ought to be outraged and take action wherever they can. They can campaign with groups online and challenge their politicians to act to protect children and curb foreign aid to governments that fail to implement international child protection standards.
The human right workers, child protectors and the NGOs working to save, protect and heal the victims and bring abusers to justice are the wonder workers of the children who are rescued and saved. But they are underfunded, sidelined and most time ignored by the authorities who do not like their outspoken defense of the abused. The judicial system mostly fails them by dismissing the charges against their rapists and traffickers. At times bribery payments under and over the table allow the culprits to walk free of responsibility for their crimes.
Not only are the children hurt and damaged most beyond healing and recovery but families are destroyed by unfaithful husbands frequenting the sex bars and karaoke bars where young girls are offered to them. Some become addicted to this underage sex abuse and they can easily fall into incestuous relationships in their own families and abuse their own children. The spread of the underage sex business would account for the rapid increase in the incidents of incestuous abuse cases in the Catholic Philippines.
The foreign sex tourists become addicted also and then return to their own countries and will endanger children in their own families or communities. They will also participate in live cyber-sex events over the internet having made contacts with the sex bars and clubs making the evil shows of children doing sex acts on live internet connections. They send payments through international courier services and they can order up live shows to their own twisted lustful desires.
The most notorious of all in the Philippines is Australian pedophile and video maker Peter Scully. He has been charged with 69 charges of criminal offenses of child abuse and making videos of him have brutal sex with six-year-olds and killing them on video. His production, “The Destruction of Daisy” shows many horrific crimes.
Dutch police discovered his video online. It was referred to the Australian Federal Police in Manila and the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation. They eventually caught Scully and his helpers. They were Local Filipino young women who recruited the children for him. The remains of “Daisy” was dug up in a house he rented. He is just one of perhaps hundreds doing this secret and hidden crime. How widespread it is, no one can say since it is illegal and done in secret.
The words condemning human trafficking and the sex trade in young people are in the millions. Human trafficking, cyber sex and sex tourism have all been decried, condemned and denounced. All lectures, interventions, and hand-wringing seem to be of little or no purpose. The trade is growing and more children are falling into the grip of human traffickers, pimps, and sex bar operators.
They have special impunity and enjoy police protection and government officials will issue the establishments with operating permits. They appear to be a legitimate business but behind the flashing neon lights and gaudy facades, there is much exploitation.
The cyber-crime, where child sex is offered live on-line, is one of the most pernicious internet crimes and most difficult to investigate. It is a secret world where minors are raped and abused.
Pope Francis declared human trafficking of minors to be a modern form of slavery and a crime against humanity. We would all do good to take a stand in our hearts and minds and let it flow into action. We can work for justice of these vulnerable children. They are the most important in the Kingdom as the master has said.
Rev. Shay Cullen is a co-founder of PREDA.org - a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the exploitation of children.