In a privilege speech meant to mark International Women’s Day, Sen. Loren Legarda on Monday, March 10, said that while the Philippines has been gaining success in empowering women, challenges remain and new ones have arisen, including cyber pornography.
?[Cyber pornography is] a crime that crosses geographical boundaries in a matter of seconds; a crime that curtails a girl’s freedom to choose a dignified life even before she understands what it means to be empowered,? Legarda.
The lawmaker recalled that in Navotas, four girls aged 12 to 19 were recently rescued from a cybersex trafficker who was selling them to foreign pedophiles.
?Instead of playing with dolls, the girls were surrounded by sex toys, locked in a sullied shanty doing activities that are inhumane regardless if they were children or adults,? she noted.
The suspect arrested by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was the uncle of two of the victims, Legarda said.
On February 17, she said the NBI raided a school in Muntinlupa as well as two call centers in Quezon City, all of which secretly nestled cybersex rooms.
According to NBI cybercrime division head Ronald Aguto, the school owner of Muntinlupa-based Mountain Top Christian Academy, identified as Purisima Martinez, harbored cybercrime operations in a disguised computer laboratory within the school campus.
Destitution, affordable high-speed Internet, and a wealthy overseas customer base have spurred the growth of cybersex dens run by organized crime groups as well as mom-and-dad shops to exploit children for financial gain, Legarda said.
?These young minds will suffer and be left with permanent psychological, physical and emotional scars. When a recording of that sexual abuse is made or released on the World Wide Web, it haunts a child for the rest of his or her life,? the solon said.
She commented: ?We hear reports about the raids relating to cybersex crimes from time to time. However, an incident-driven response to this barbaric transgression is only effective if it is matched with immediate and long-term tactical investigation that focuses on crime markets and criminal scheme architects.?
Legarda said the biggest challenge in cybercrime stems from innovations created by the offenders, difficulties in accessing electronic evidence, logistic limitations, and lack of funding.
?Therefore, our law enforcement must use both new and traditional policing techniques. With emerging technologies, we need to adapt to the new methods and devices used by criminals, including the use of smartphones, a transition from desktop computers. Our authorities need a sustainable, comprehensive technical support and assistance in the investigation and battle of cyber crimes.
?To strengthen our battle against cyber pornography, we need to raise this issue and voice our concerns louder, raise awareness, forge public-private partnerships and generate better cybercrime strategies with a broader cyber security perspective,? she concluded.