Youths undergo training in fight against sexual abuse among deaf individuals
THE Break the Silence project initiated by the Philippine Accessible Disability Services Incorporated (PADS Inc.), in partnership with Canada Fund for Local Initiative, through the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines and the support of Golden Orient Ship Management and Agencies Inc., have worked together in the development of new sets of deaf advocates, composed mostly of student leaders of the First High School for the Hearing Impaired in Cebu City, to lead in the campaign against sexual abuse and exploitation in the deaf communities of Cebu.
Last November 11 and 12, 25 young leaders have undergone an intensive training on human trafficking, cyber safety and online sexual exploitation on children at the National Food Authority regional office in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City.
With the rampant development of technology, perpetrators are jumping in to the opportunity to exploit more children.
In addition, they see Internet as the best avenue to cover up their crimes. This makes the children and youth with disabilities more vulnerable since they are attracted to use the new technology in social media through video chatting, messaging application programs to communicate and socialize online which are highly accessible to them without the knowledge of their parents or guardian.
Social media has become a platform for deaf individuals and parents to exploit their children to engage in online pornography live shows in order to earn income as a result of poverty and unemployment.
PADS believes that the vulnerability of deaf children and women makes them prone to these crimes.
Over the past few years since the launching of the Break The Silence project, PADS received a number of disclosures and reports from students during its trainings conducted in special education centers. The goal of developing student advocates is to enhance the level of awareness among deaf students against these issues and take the lead in campaigning among deaf students in schools and communities.
SPO3 Egmedio Felisan, one of the speakers for the topic on cyber safety, stressed that there are certain information that could put an individual in danger. “If you are not responsible on what you post in Facebook, or any social media, perpetrators could easily access your whereabouts and use it against you. So please be a responsible boy and girl.” He also inspired the deaf leaders on his life story on how a thief became one of the most respected policemen of Cebu.
On the other hand, Mariejo Sevilla of International Justice Mission focused on the issues of human trafficking online and how rampant it is in Cebu City.
“Children are exploited online in different parts of Cebu and in the Philippines. They are forced to execute things in which children are not supposed to do. The sad part is that they are not aware that this is wrong. And what makes it worse is that their own parents who are exploiting them,” he said.
The experiences of the leaders were summarized into a creative stage play of the topics that were discussed.
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