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IJM's Center to End Online Sexual Exploitation of Children celebrates one-year anniversary
November 20, 2021 marked the one-year anniversary of IJM's Center to End Online Sexual Exploitation of children, which aims to strengthen the global response against this rapidly growing, borderless crime.
Stock photo. Not an actual survivor.
Mon Nov 22 20215 min read

MANILA, PHILIPPINES- November 20, 2021 marked the one-year anniversary of IJM's Center to End Online Sexual Exploitation of children, which aims to strengthen the global response against this rapidly growing, borderless crime.

Regional Vice President for IJM's Programs Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children Atty. Sam Inocencio shares:

Amidst the pandemic, IJM launched the Center to End Online Sexual Exploitation of Children, which allowed us to be in the middle of global conversations in addressing this increasing crime. The Center works closely with global stakeholders towards improved detection and reporting of online sexual exploitation of children by technology and financial sector platforms.

The Center was officially launched during the final day of the Global Resolve Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children: A Global Virtual Summit. This three-day virtual event last November 2020, co-hosted by the Philippine Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) in partnership with the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP) and IJM, convened about 800 local and global multidisciplinary stakeholders and experts.

Supporting efforts to protect children from online sexual exploitation globally, the Center follows a three-pronged global strategy: (1) improve technology and financial sector detection and reporting of livestreamed sexual abuse; (2) strengthen international collaboration in law enforcement and prosecution; and (3) support effective justice system responses in source and demand-side countries, resulting in sustainable protection for children and accountability for perpetrators.

Since then, the Center has been making strides in collaborating with global actors to combat the trafficking of children to create child sexual exploitation material, especially via livestreaming.

As part of this global effort, the Center is developing a methodology to estimate the prevalence of this crime, beginning in the Philippines. Launched this year, the Scale of Harm project is a collaboration between the Center and 23 other world-class experts, researchers, and field practitioners from technology, financial, government, and non-government/child protection sectors. IJM retained the University of Nottingham's Rights Lab, the world's largest group of human trafficking and modern-day slavery researchers to advise on the research methodology.

In July 2021, the Center launched a thirty-six month, grant-funded project in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to strengthen law enforcement responses to CyberTipline reports in two Southeast Asian countries.

Supporting effective justice system responses in source and demand-side countries included efforts such as co-hosting a virtual roundtable with WeProtect Global Alliance. This event gathered experts to explore the overlap between child trafficking and online sexual abuse and exploitation, documented in an Outcomes Briefing.

Drawing from IJM Philippines' extensive experience working alongside the Philippine Government in combatting online sexual exploitation of children, the Center also provided case studies, consultation, and other data for the 2021 Global Threat Assessment (GTA), released on October 19, 2021 by the WeProtect Global Alliance (WPGA).

The comprehensive report confirms the urgent need for the tech industry as a whole to improve detection, disruption, and reporting of child sexual abuse online. Citing results of a survey conducted by WPGA and Technology Coalition, the report revealed that only 22% of surveyed tech companies used artificial intelligence classifiers in livestream contexts, while only 30% used video-based classifiers.

Executive Director John Tanagho shares:

IJM is proud to collaborate with so many committed and excellent stakeholders across sectors working to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation online. We remain encouraged and hopeful that together we absolutely can and will strengthen government, corporate and justice system responses to make the world safer for children and push back the avalanche of abuse they face today.

Throughout the year, IJM's Center to End Online Sexual Exploitation of Children has also released five publications.

  • 'Behind the Screens' compiles case studies which demonstrate the global aspect of the supply and demand crime of online sexual exploitation of children.
  • 'Falling Short' examines cases and sentences involving UK offenders and serves as an opportunity for all demand-side nations to review their sentencing schemes for livestreamed child sexual abuse offences.
  • 'Tech and Financial Sector Indicators of Livestreamed Online Sexual Exploitation of Children' identifies indicators which, when used by tech and financial sector entities to inform internal policy-driven decisions, may help detect and disrupt activity related to online sexual exploitation of children.
  • 'A Positive Step for Child Protection and Privacy', the Center's official statement in response to Apple's new child safety measures, applauds Apple for its new child safety initiatives related to iCloud Photos and Messages specifically.
  • 'Center 2021 Factsheet' supplies key information about the Center work.

In celebration of November as the Children's month, the Center will also publish another paper, supporting the advancement of trauma-informed, child-protective prosecution and proposing a strength-based rubric for analyzing conviction results in cases of trafficking for online sexual exploitation of children. Stay tuned as it will be released this November 26 (Friday).

You can visit https://www.ijm.org.ph/center for more details.

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