PROSTITUTION in the Philippines has become a multimillion-dollar industry and the fourth largest source of the gross national product, a report on child pornography said Tuesday.
Commissioned by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), the report, “Child Pornography in the Philippines,” said new technology such as the Internet has taken pornography to a new level that is much harder to detect.
It said poor developing countries like the Philippines have become major centers for the global sex tourism industry where women and children are exploited.
The report said the growth of prostitution in developing countries is “inextricably intertwined with sex tourism.”
And it added that a study by the Psychological Trauma Program of the University of the Philippines found that prostitution has become the fourth largest source of GNP in the country.
The report’s coordinator, Elizabeth Protacio de Castro of the Center for Integrative and Development Studies at the University of the Philippines, said: “We have only started to scratch the surface of child pornography in this country.”
At a press conference to launch the report, she said the country had become a major attraction for “pedophiles and perverts” who prey on children and are involved in the production of child pornography.
“We know child prostitution exists in the Philippines but what we don’t know is the extent of child pornography,” she said.
“While some data are available they may not reflect the real number of children being victimized by the child pornographer,” she added.
Data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development show only nine children were victims of child pornography in 2000 compared with 13 in 2003; the number of children who were victims of child prostitution numbered 186 and 247 for the same years.
De Castro said the aim of the report “is to address the lack of information” available on child pornography in the Philippines and to “address issues about such things as the laws protecting children.”
The study, carried out last year, said the advent of the Internet, mobile phones and digital camera had made the work of the pornographer easier while making it more difficult for the authorities to detect.
De Castro said the attitude of local Internet Service Providers will have to change to check child pornography in the Philippines. She said every single ISP approached for the report refused to be interviewed.
“Digital technology, with its obvious attractions for children, often facilitates recruitment of kids into these practices. It can also be seen as a safer form of prostitution,” said Nicholas Alipui, the Unicef’s country representative in the Philippines