Their alleged pimp, a man named Jerrie Arraz began as a good samaritan neighbor. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: This young woman is the 11th of 12 children in a family from one of the many rural Philippine islands beset by poverty and often natural disasters.
GIRL (through interpreter): There was a time when my mother need money because my stepfather was in jail. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Her mother: WOMAN (through interpreter): He was really kind. Opportunities are scarce, so, at 12, the offer of a scholarship from a kindly stranger, a man visiting to her village, was hard to resist.
And the phone call rung that signaled that money exchanged hands. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: As it turns out, six children were removed from the home of Jerrie Arraz and placed with Oebanda’s agency, including a 1-year-old infant abandoned by its mother.
The more immediate task is to try to restore childhoods through counseling and eventually adoption into homes, education and skills training for those older.
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CECILIA FLORES-OEBANDA, Director, Visayan Forum Foundation: Because they think that they’re — the girls are just actually performing in the computer, and there’s no contact, there is no touch. The children are invariably inducted into traditional prostitution and its daily physical abuse.
These two 15-year-olds were rescued in a police sting from a cyber-porn racket.
Cecilia Oebanda, who founded the Philippines’ largest anti-trafficking group, says many people don’t believe or don’t want to believe it’s that harmful. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: At a shelter her agency runs is living proof that it’s not just emotionally abusive, but also frequently escalates.
The young woman won’t make the connection that computer software will, until it’s too late.
They have got her face from her previous, more innocent images, and have Photoshopped them with the nude ones. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In no time, they are shamed and blackmailed into working for the opaque criminal networks behind the trade.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: She accompanied the man to Manila, and was placed with Arraz, with whom he was apparently associated.
She was in fact placed in school, but, gradually, there were demands, and they escalated, to display herself before strangers online, then to perform sexually and with Arraz in front of the camera.