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“There is (also) a need to review the provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act to see whether there is need for amendatory legislation, including the possibility of imposing higher penalties for child pornography,” she added.
When she was justice secretary, De Lima chaired the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) to coordinate efforts in implementing the principal laws against human trafficking, including all forms of slavery, forced labor and sexual exploitation.
Human rights groups estimate that tens of thousands of children in the Philippines alone are forced to perform sexual acts in Internet cafes or their homes.
Some families have started the cybersex business with only a laptop.
Terre des Hommes activists registered online as "Sweetie," a computer-animated figure of a 10-year-old Filipino girl, to attract pedophiles.
In just ten weeks, more than 20,000 pedophiles contacted "Sweetie" from all over the world.
De Lima noted the recent spate of police raids on cybersex dens in Metro Manila and nearby provinces which put into serious doubts that implementation of the country’s laws to protect children against sexual abuses.
“In 2017 alone, numerous cybersex raids were conducted nationwide, during some of which minors were rescued,” she pointed out.
Also, the judicial process in the Philippines is very slow and it takes several years to punish a culprit.
The psychological impact of cybersex is as damaging as in cases of physical abuse.
Many exploited children have to deal with anxiety and depression issues, and they cannot establish proper relations with other humans. Healing process "The children need to vent out negative emotions to regain self-confidence," Shay Cullen, founder of the PREDA child protection group, told DW.
Lifetime trauma According to the police, many parents involved in child pornography trivialize cybersex and argue that posturing in front of a camera cannot be equated with real prostitution as it doesn't involve physical contact.
However, rights groups say that victims of webcam child prostitution often suffer from severe, lifelong trauma.
The FBI estimates that in more than 40,000 public chat-rooms around the world, some 750,000 pedophiles search child pornographic material round the clock.