The International Justice Mission (IJM) has released a collaborative video campaign entitled: #DontJUSTSendFlower with 22 leading Filipina women joining hands in the fight to end online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) in the Philippines.
The video campaign was released May 4 in time for the Mother’s Day celebration on May 10.
The Mother’s Day is a significant entry point for the video campaign for it urges viewers to make a financial donation like a form of a gift and as an addition to flower gift-giving by the donors on their mothers. Hence, the campaign hashtag – #DontJUSTSendFlowers.
The #DontJUSTSendFlowers campaign intends to convey a clear message that the Philippines no longer accepts to have its children become subject of predators for online sexual exploitation.
The campaign against OSEC has a twofold aim:
- To raise awareness of OSEC, particularly within a Filipino audience; and
- To raise funds for IJM Philippines to enable their teams to continue the vital work of rescuing victims, restraining perpetrators, and supporting the rehabilitation of OSEC survivors.
The online sexual exploitation of children or OSEC is defined as the production, for the purpose of online publication, of visual depictions (e.g. photos, videos, live streaming) of the sexual abuse or exploitation of a minor for a third party who is not in the physical presence of the victim, in exchange for a compensation.
Most Ph OSEC cases involves local predators
A global organization who fights violent forms of slavery and oppression, IJM handled its first OSEC case in the Philippines in 2011. It was able to carry out 182 operations and rescued 613 victims, the youngest of whom was an infant, together with partners in government.
Collaborative casework data from IJM have revealed that 62% of OSEC cases in the Philippines involves the people who are charged with the care of children like a family member, relative, close family friends, or neighbors.
Not even the COVID-19 pandemic have rested child sexual abuse online, said IJM. The lockdown, in fact, created a perfect storm for it fueled the condition for an increased demand of online materials.
Therefore IJM operations continued despite the quarantine period. It supported two police operations against OSEC. In an April 24 operation, it was able to rescue seven minors – six males and one female, ages 3-14 – four of them were children of the suspects.
These operations have showed the complexities of handling OSEC-related crimes and considering the hidden and layered nature of the issue. IJM enhanced its frontline work and provided a focus on public awareness like #DontJUSTSendFlowers.
22 leading women united against OSEC
The #DontJUSTSendFlowers is a show of unity against OSEC by 22 leading Filipina social media influencers and some of them are celebrities who are household names. Each of the influencer filmed their line(s) for the campaign from their homes as a result of the quarantine.
Among the women who made the #DontJUSTSendFlowers possible are: Divine Lee, Rocio Olbes Ressano, Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio, Cindy Kurleto, Patti Grandidge-Herrera, Vanessa Matsunaga-Sunga, Jessica Tan-Gan, Mariel Padilla, Amanda Griffin Jacob, Cat Juan Ledesma, Kelly Misa-Fernandez, Dawn Zulueta, Dimples Romana-Ahmee, Denise Laurel, Bianca Santiago-Reinoso, Liz Uy, Mikaela Lagdameo-Martinez, Solenn Heusaff Bolzico, Toni Gonzaga, Nicole Hernandez – de los Angeles, Cristalle Belo, Joanna Blanding, and Sam Valenciano.
The campaign was spearheaded by IJM Partner Amanda Griffin-Jacob, who is the founder of Glam-O-Mamas.
“When I learned about OSEC, I was compelled to do everything [that] I could to help put an end to it in our country. My heart aches for all the innocent children who are being victimized over and over again,” expressed Griffin-Jacob.
According to IJM, the Philippines is one of the largest source of OSEC cases globally, an irony for a country with robust laws that outline heavy penalties on crimes against children, OSEC included. Among the laws against OSEC are the following:
- Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act or Republic Act No. 9208. Amended by RA 10364, the law carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P2-5million,
- Cybercrime Prevention Act or RA 10175 of 2012,
- Anti‐Child Pornography Act or RA 9775 of 2009, and
- Anti-Child Abuse Law or RA 7610.
This is the reason why Griffin-Jacob believes that the first step to OSEC eradication is national awareness, underscoring that Filipinos have low awareness about OSEC.
Public support on the campaign #DontJUSTSendFlowers is a major first step.
“IJM is extremely grateful for this group of influential women who are standing with us in the fight to end OSEC,” said Samson Inocencio, Jr., IJM Philippines Director.
“Their powerful voices throw light on a crime which is otherwise dark and unseen and [it] stirs in all of us a sense of urgency to rescue more victims and ultimately protect children from ever being abused in the first place,” conveyed Inocencio.
One may report a suspected case of OSEC by texting ENDOSEC (space)(incident details) to 7444-64 for Smart network subscribers; or by calling the IACAT 1343 Action line; or directly connecting with WCPC at (032) 410-8483 for Visayas, and 0917-180-6037 or 0928-604-6425 for Mindanao.