The Hidden Faces of Child Exploitation
My life is in your hands. Save me...” —Psalm 31:15 (NCV)
Children should be esteemed, not exploited.
Cyberporn— Lacy* and Joleen* should have been playing with dolls and games like other 7-and 10-year-old neighbor girls. But what happened to them in the shadows was no game. Both girls were victimized by a notorious criminal the media called “The Queen of Cyberporn.” To meet the insatiable demand for Filipino child porn, this evil queen abused dozens of children. She took explicit photos of them, live-streamed them undressing, and charged top dollar for live chat-room sessions of molestation and any deviant act requested by customers.
This betrayal was compounded by the fact that the girls’ parents were either passively or actively complicit in the abuse. According to John Williford, director of Happy Horizons Children’s Ranch (HHCR) in Cebu, Philippines, “The majority of the time, the perpetrator is a family member or friend of the family—someone the child should have been able to trust. From that point on, the child has trust issues that affect all of their relationships.”
Fortunately for Lacy and Joleen, Happy Horizons has a Child Rescue Project that gives young victims of sexual abuse a safe place to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Forced labor— Her parents too poor to provide for all eight of their children, 14-year-old Jewel* was told she was going to live with a woman who would help her finish school. But the woman never enrolled Jewel in school. Instead, she forced her to work as a maid and abused her verbally and physically. After several months, the woman’s son raped Jewel, and she ran away. She was referred to HHCR for long-term care while her case is being processed in court.
Sex trafficking— By the time Thai authorities rescued Yomuh* and Mida,* two young Ahka hill-tribe girls, from human trafficking, not only had they suffered physical and emotional trauma, but both were pregnant. They were given a safe and loving home with Chiang Rai Children’s Home, where their babies were born to young mothers with renewed hope for the future.
From darkness to light— Your gifts to Asia’s Little Ones are helping to make a difference in the lives of exploited and trafficked children. In the years since Lacy and Joleen were rescued from the Queen of Cyberporn, here’s how their lives have changed while at Happy Horizons:
Lacy is a fun young lady with a big personality. She does well in school but is much more interested in social activities. She loves to smile, laugh, and play. She is a wonderful singer and is learning to play the guitar. She is a praise dancer at church. She participated in the Junior Student Convention and won medals in track, singing, and storytelling. She changes her mind almost daily about what she would like to be when she grows up, but she has mentioned wanting to be a teacher, a missionary, or a computer programmer.
Joleen is one of the top students in HHCR’s school. She has a quiet beauty about her. She is an excellent seamstress and makes jewelry and crafts. She enjoys serving on the worship team, is a praise dancer, and plays bass guitar. She is also on the Quick Savers team, a group trained in first aid. She hopes to become a nurse or teacher someday.
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* For the girls’ protection and privacy, their names have been changed, and photographs of other children are used to represent them.