The International Justice Mission

A young girl in The Philippines is celebrating more than her latest birthday this past week. On December 5th, the day before her 6th birthday, she and four other children had been living in abusive conditions at their home in Cebu when they were rescued from cybersex trafficking. IJM staff collaborated with officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Filipino authorities to help find and free children from the abusive home.

Customers Around the World Could Abuse Children in This Home

Cybersex trafficking occurs when someone online – in this case, an American – pays to stream live videos and abusive images of children being forced to perform sexual acts. This latest case typifies the hidden and reprehensible nature of the crime. The abuse wasn’t happening at a bar or business—instead, it took place at home in a small, tightknit community, perpetuated by family members.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security traced the abuse to the Philippines, and authorities asked IJM to assist with the complex operation to rescue the children.

As authorities emerged from the house, they noticed one child among bystanders gathering outside the home, from photos they had earlier reviewed as evidence.

Two suspects have been arrested, and IJM will support public prosecutors with the case of online sexual exploitation.

“There will be no let up in our campaign against human trafficking. This is a very serious offense with harsh penalties. It destroys people and has a long-term effect on children,” National Bureau of Investigations Assistant Director Augusto Isidoro told a local paper, emphasizing his unit’s commitment to stamping out this growing crime of commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Special Care Needed for Young Victims

The children cried from being confused and scared. IJM staff was on hand to provide comfort and clearly explain what was happening.

“It was not easy to remove [them] from their families, knowing that the victims and suspects’ family are related,” said IJM social worker Margie Infante.

That weekend, social workers tended to the children at a short-term children’s home designed for trafficking survivors. Margie and the aftercare team will assess each child’s unique physical and psychosocial needs, then help find a long-term aftercare home where they can start to heal.

The youngest victim turned 6 years old on December 6. She sat around a birthday cake and blew out the candles, knowing that she is now safe to enjoy her childhood. The story of freedom is just beginning for her and the other survivors.cebu2

About Sabina Covo

Nombrada como una de las colombo americanas más influyentes en el sur de la Florida por The Americas Community Center and Broward County, y galardonada como uno de los 20 mejores profesionales de menos de 40 años en el sur de Florida por Brickell Magazine en 2013, Sabina Covo cuenta con más de catorce años de experiencia en periodismo, escritura y consultoría en comunicaciones, tanto en Estados Unidos como en América Latina. Ha sido reportera, presentadora de noticias de televisión y radio, y corresponsal de Telemundo 51, donde comenzó su carrera en el año 2000, ha trabajado para Mundofox, Cadena Ser, La W Radio y Caracol, La Televisión Nacional de Austria, Prisa, Canal Cartagena y ADN Chile. incluyendo convenciones nacionales democráticas y republicanas. Sabina ha entrevistado a personalidades como la secretaria de Estado Madeline Albright, los presidentes colombianos Álvaro Uribe y Juan Manuel Santos o la estrella internacional Julio Iglesias para nombrar algunos. Ella ha cubierto elecciones desde 2004 incluyendo convenciones nacionales Sabina Covo fundó su agencia de relaciones públicas Sabina Covo Communications LLC con sede en Coconut Grove en 2014. En 2008 obtuvo un premio Building Our Community Award de la entidad internacional March of Dimes por su trabajo dentro de la organización y en 2009 fue nominada por la Cámara de Comercio de Coral Gables con un “Raising Star Award”. Se graduó de la Universidad Internacional de la Florida con un grado de Comunicaciones y Ciencias Políticas en 2001. Sabina started her career as a journalist in 1999. She graduated with a Communications Degree from Florida International University and has worked as a journalist, TV and Radio Anchor and Reporter for different stations and print publications in Latin America and the US including Caracol, W Radio, Austrian National Television, America Teve, Canal sur, NBC and Telemundo. She served as the director of Media Relations for Gordon Reyes and Associates in Miami and was nominated for a Raising Star Award by the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce. She has a Building our Community award for her collaboration with the March of Dimes, and is part of Sharing for Kids. Sabina is a columnist for El Nuevo Herald in Miami, and a journalist and TV personality for America Teve.

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