The Philippines ranked 16th out of the 40 countries evaluated to determine how they are responding to the scourge of sexual abuse and exploitation, according to a study.
The Philippines garnered an overall score of 55.3, with 82.7 as the highest, clinched by the United Kingdom, which reflected how the countries can exacerbate risks for children; whether or not laws are in place to protect them and help them seek justice; if the government is committed to and capable of addressing sexual violence; and the role that civil society and industry are currently playing in addressing the issue.
The research program, Out of the Shadows: Shining light on the response to child sexual abuse and exploitation was developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit with support from the World Childhood Foundation and Oak Foundation and the Carlson Family Foundation.
The United Kingdom, Sweden and Canada hold the top three positions in the index.
The Philippines' neighbors in Southeast Asia ranked lower with Malaysia at 20th spot (53.4); Indonesia at rank 32 (47.0); China at 36th place (43.7); and, Vietnam at 37th spot (42.9).
The ranking was based on four indicators within which responses to sexual violence against children can occur: environment; legal framework; government commitment and capacity; and, engagement of industry, civil society and media.
The study revealed that the legal framework and the overall environment for children in the Philippines are especially strong.
Government commitment and capacity to assist the children needs to be further developed, as well as engagement with industry, civil society and media.
As defined in the study, the overall environment refers to the "safety and stability of a country, the social protections available to families and children, and whether norms lend to open discussion of the issue."
Legal framework is "the degree to which a country provides legal or regulatory protections for children from sexual exploitation or abuse."
Government commitment and capacity examines "whether governments invest in resources to equip institutions and personnel to respond appropriately and to collect date to understand the scope of the problem."
Engagement of industry, civil society and media relates to the "propensity for addressing risks to children at the industry and community levels, as well as providing support to victims."
The policies, practices and standards presented in the index highlight how governments, the private sector and civil society can move toward achieving Target 16.2 in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, which calls for ending all forms of violence against children by 2030.
Created with guidance from an international panel of experts, the index covers a comprehensive range of critical issues, including policies on child marriage, reproductive and sexual health, gender differences, law enforcement, and child sexual abuse online, where the expansion of broadband internet has placed more children at risk. Index indicators also focus on the engagement of businesses in fighting child sexual abuse and exploitation, especially the technology and travel/tourism industries.
The 40 countries included in the index cover 70% of the global population under 19 years of age.
Other key findings from the study:
- Data to measure and understand the scale of the problem are lacking. Despite investments and efforts globally to combat and catalogue online child sexual abuse and to track reported incidents of sexual violence against children, just half of the 40 countries reviewed in this index collect nationally representative prevalence data on child sexual abuse and only five collect such data on child sexual exploitation.
- Boys are overlooked. Just over half (21) of the 40 countries do not have legal protections for boys within their child rape laws, while only 18 countries collect prevalence dat about sexual abuse of boys.
- Country action has been most pronounced on legal frameworks that protect children.
- Combatting child sexual abuse and exploitation is becoming a greater priority on the global stage and in many individual countries, and research shows that progress is possible even when resources are limited.
—LDF, GMA News