The Philippine government saw a 260 percent increase in reports of online child abuse from March to May – when the country was in a strict lockdown, UNICEF said.
John Tanagho of the International Justice Mission in Manila explained, “COVID-19 lockdowns created the perfect storm for increases in online sexual exploitation of children.”
The Australian Federal Police said investigators are even “seeing COVID-specific child exploitation forums where (offenders) are discussing the opportunities that have arisen during the COVID period,” including one with 1,000 members.
Online sexual exploitation of children is a “crime of opportunity” driven by demand from sex offenders, said Tanagho.
With jobs and income lost and more time spent at home as a result of strict virus measures in the Philippines, many of the victims are first abused by their own parents, who livestream the sexual violence for predators in wealthy Western nations.