ECPAT PHILIPPINES envisions a world where children enjoy a life of human dignity and a safe environment where they can exercise their rights to the fullest.
ECPAT PHILIPPINES is part of a global network of organizations and individuals working together for the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. It seeks to encourage the world community to ensure that children everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights free and secure from all forms of commercial sexual exploitation.
Who We Are
From a three-year global movement to End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism which began in 1991, ECPAT has evolved into a network of organizations in over 100 countries, working together to eliminate all forms of sexual exploitation of children.
In response to a consultation which exposed the growing trend of child prostitution by tourists in Southeast Asia, civil society groups and individuals from Thailand, Sri-Lanka, Taiwan and the Philippines were the first to rally governments and the public to take action. The 3-year campaign which began in 1991 resulted in the first World Congress on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in 1996. Held in Stockholm Sweden, it was attended by concerned governments, inter-governments and other relevant stakeholders who finally took notice of the problem and were prompted to establish legal frameworks that will protect children against sexual exploitation. It was in the same venue where the importance of addressing the interrelated forms of sexual exploitation i.e. child prostitution, child sex trafficking and pornography on a global level was highlighted.
ECPAT in the Philippines was one of the lead organizations that lobbied for the enactment of national landmark legislations which aid in the prosecution of criminals associated with sexual exploitation of children: Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children from Abuse, Discrimination and Neglect of 1992; Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 9208 and Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009. Further realizing the importance of localizing these national laws in order for them to be truly implemented in vulnerable communities, ECPAT has also pushed for the enactment of local ordinances in areas where it works. In 2016 and 2017, it has successfully lobbied for the adoption of Anti-Child Sex Tourism ordinances, the first of its kind, in the province of Bohol and municipality of Malay in Aklan, respectively. Today, ECPAT’s programs and projects are strategically aimed to help ensure that these laws do not only remain in paper, but efficiently enforced.
What is Sexual Exploitation of Children (SEC)?
The Sexual Exploitation of Children
Sexual Exploitation of Children (SEC) is a fundamental violation of human and children’s rights. It is a serious crime in which children are used for sexual purposes in exchange for remuneration to one or more parties. Any form of SEC damages the wellbeing of a child, hindering him or her from living a full life.
Interrelated forms of SEC
- Children Exploited in Prostitution
- Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes
- Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
- Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism
What We Do
ECPAT Philippines’ programs and projects fall under the four pathways to end Sexual Exploitation of Children (SEC): Prevention of Crimes; Promotion of Child Rights; Prosecution of Offenses; and Provision of Services. From raising awareness and capacities of stakeholders to helping victims access the criminal justice system, working simultaneously in these 4 areas has enabled us to target SEC in a holistic manner.
Policy Legislative Advocacy and Networking (PLAN) Program
PLAN is ECPAT Philippines’ main program, and is part of the organizations’ continuing commitment to advocacy and capacity building against SEC. Projects and activities under PLAN focus on lobbying with national and local governments for the existence and enforcement of policies and laws against SEC in the Philippines. We further strengthen our lobbying capacity by working with other CSOs and relevant sectors as well as raising awareness of the general public which can significantly influence the advancement of our cause for children.
Community and School Educations
CSEC has a lucrative nature that persists in poor communities where families are in dire need of resources to survive. Many people in these areas are uneducated and unaware, making them easy prey for CSEC offenders. Children are easily deceived by promises of high paying jobs in faraway places, but instead end up being used as sex slaves. Parents quit their jobs and cajole their own children into cybersex with foreign clients. Young people enter into prostitution thinking it is their only option for a living.
Poverty and ignorance are the root causes, and confronting these is key. While there have been life-long efforts to alleviate poverty (with ECPAT also providing livelihood trainings to beneficiaries), we put utmost importance in educating people on the issue. We believe that when people know and understand their rights, they are empowered – even if they are disadvantaged.
ECPAT Philippines has reached out to places where prostitution, sex trafficking and pornography of children are most pervasive. We conducted education sessions to inform vulnerable children and families of contexts and trends of CSEC so they will be vigilant members of their community—who know where and how to report incidents, who know what to do when faced with danger, and who know where to seek help and access justice when victimized.
Children have legal rights that they should fight for and should adhere to. Any violation of such rights is punishable under the law. Our initiatives for educating children and families seek to raise consciousness on the issue and deter ill-willed community members from overstepping these rights.
Capacity Building for Law Enforcers
Comprehensive child protection laws have been in place for years but enforcement remains a challenge partly due to insufficient budget allocated for the laws’ full implementation. An example is the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, which requires considerable resources to provide assistance and support to child victims, and train law enforcement personnel. Law enforcers and service providers need to be equipped with knowledge, capacities, skills and tools before laws may be fully implemented.
To fill the gaps, we have conducted capacity building training to strengthen existing practices in the conduct of police investigation and rescue of child victims of sexual exploitation. These training activities provide participants with opportunities to revisit salient provisions of existing laws on CSEC, scrutinize real-life cases of child exploitation, and analyze challenges encountered by authorities when handling cases.
Capacity Buidling for Service Providers and CSOs
We train local government officials and civil society organizations on existing protocols of case management. The training highlights the roles and responsibilities of government agencies and their partners, starting from the reporting or referral of a child abuse case until its termination. Knowledge gained from the training should ensure that child victims are dealt with in a most child-sensitive and appropriate manner.
Capacity Building for Tourism Workers
The desire of ill-willed tourists to have sex with children fuels the sex trade.
Since 1980s, the Philippines has been known as a Child Sex Tourism (CST) destination. The trend is for foreign tourists from richer countries to go to less developed countries, where they can pay their way into having sex with children who have none. With millions of tourist arrivals to the country in recent years, Filipino children become more and more vulnerable to CST.
Child sex tourism is a process that often involves the use of tourism facilities such as travel agencies, tour operators, hotels, hostels, brothels, clubs, bars, massage parlors and other related ventures, as well as hired transportation like cabs, tricycles, and vans, to facilitate contact with children. The use of tourism facilities may conceivably allow sex tourists to be anonymous in the surrounding population.
Tourism front liners are therefore in a unique position as they are the ones to most likely witness threats of abuse by travelling sex offenders. Let’s say, a housekeeping staff in a hotel sees a foreigner alone with a Filipino child about to enter a room. What should he/she do? What are the laws that prohibit such act? How can facilities prevent similar situations from happening?
We stress that CST is a crime, and that the welfare of children should never be compromised if only to fulfill the desires of ill-willed tourists. We train and orient hotel staff, tour guides and operators, tourist drivers and operators, tourist police and local tourism officials to make them understand how child rights are violated when tourism is allowed to develop without accompanying policies that encompass preservation of such rights. We provide tourist personnel with tips on how to spot a possible child sex offender and prime them on what to do under particular circumstances. Further, we lobby for tourism business owners to create a child protection policy that shall strengthen the protection of children within their premises.
Government and CSO Networks
- Committee on the Special Protection of Children (CSPC) – An inter-agency council mandated by the government to oversee the implementation of RA 7610: The Protection of Children from Abuse, Discrimination and Neglect of 1992
- Civil Society Coalition on the Rights of the Child (CSC-CRC) – 19 CSO members monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Philippines
- Founder of the Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT) – a network of child rights advocates committed to building communities that protect children against trafficking.
- Partner of the Department of Tourism in its Child Safe Tourism Campaign
- Angeles City Local Committee on the Protection of Children (LCPC)
- Accredited NGO partner of LGUs in Quezon City, Bohol, and Boracay
Children and Youth Empowerment Program (CYEP)
CYEP is a program that focuses on the healing, recovery and reintegration of child survivors of sexual exploitation. It also consists of activities and campaigns that aim to empower young people to get involved on issues that affect them, particularly on their protection against sexual exploitation.
The ECPAT Home. Established in 2005 and accredited by the DSWD, the ECPAT Home is a welcome space for girl survivors of sexual exploitation. Children here are provided with care and services that are necessary for their healing and recovery. Social services such as educational, health, legal, psychosocial and livelihood assistance are provided to children until they are ready to go back to their families or communities as free and empowered individuals.
Community-based Assistance. Whenever safe and possible, it is best for child survivors to stay with their families while in the healing and recovery process. ECPAT also assists child survivors in whose families cannot afford to pursue legal cases against perpetrators nor support children’s educational, medical and psychological needs in order to get back to normalcy.
ECPAT Children and Youth Advocates. ECPAT aims to empower children to take charge of their protection and support each other. Since 2003, ECPAT