By: Father Shay Cullen
The little boy, 6 years old, was bawling and crying when being egged on by the TV show host to gyrate as a “Macho” sex dancer to the hoots and laughter of an insensitive audience unaware that it was child abuse. It is just one more incident of a child being sexualized and exploited for the entertainment and allurement of adults. Children are frequently dressed up as adults, complete with make-up and lipstick or paraded in bikinis in so-called beauty contests. It is a desensitization of the child and erosion of their natural modesty, moral values and right to privacy. It is grooming them to be victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. Just take a look at Youtube Kids Dancing at Hip Hop competition – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72IT-V6kcBs. They perform sexually-suggestive dancing.
The episode of the 6 year-old boy has been called abuse but the audience, parents, and the host of the show did not see it that way. This is some indication of the low level of awareness of child abuse among the general population. Children’s rights groups, the media, church leaders, government human rights agencies have since spoken out against it. Advertisers have pulled out and the show has been suspended for two weeks. It earned as much as 9 million Pesos (US$210,000, £128,000) daily for TV5 headed by Ray Espinosa.
Last 9th April 2011, the incident got front page headline and wide coverage in a leading broadsheet and other publications. Good and laudable as this reaction from the media and concerned agencies and show-biz celebrities, yet nothing but silence greeted the discovery of three street children victims of a most heinous crimes, hogtied, tortured to death, and dumped in a drainage canal in Zamboanga city earlier this month, the exception being a short report in a local newspaper and a national daily that gave it 6.5 column inches. It is not an isolated incident as it is happening in many cities but it is usually covered up or ignored. These crimes are allegedly done by police with knowledge and support of local politicians.
The Philippine media has a huge responsibility to maintain a high level of coverage on human rights and the dignity of people. What passes for entertainment on television shows can demean the intelligence of the Filipino people and even news reporting can overlook serious priorities and trivialize important events and human rights violations or even ignore them.
It may be the fear factor that has reduced investigative reporting considering that 142 journalists have been assassinated in the Philippines during the past three decades. Courageous reporters and newspapers have bravely exposed corruption and violations of human rights and have paid the price, they were assassinated themselves. Much more has to be done to expose the killers and the violence against children. A recent study has revealed that seven out of ten Filipino children in elementary school suffer some form of violence – verbal, physical, psychological or sexual. But even more serious violence is also a daily occurrence – child trafficking, sex slavery and all forms of child abuse are seldom reported by the media. It has become a common place and apparently not newsworthy.
The good thing that lifts up our spirits is the fact that thousands of child rights advocates all over the country are rallying, protesting and working to protect children and develop public awareness and action to curb child exploitation and abuse.
The present Secretary of Justice Leila De Lima and Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman are beacons of hope. When she was chairperson of the Commission on Human rights, Secretary De Lima tried to investigate the summary executions done by the Davao Death Squad but she was blocked at every effort to uncover the corpses and investigate. Even a judge opposed her investigation. We hope too that the present chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, Loretta Ann P. Rosales, will open an investigation in the children murdered in Zamboanga.
There has been little reaction from media, church or civil society, to the brutal torture and killing of the street kids, the youngest 12 years old, in Zamboanga by suspected police. It’s up to us to speak out. Join our letter writing campaign to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Department of Justice, Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila 1000, Philippines or email to Preda [@] info.com.ph. END
- De Lima sees violation of Anti-Child Abuse Law by Willie’s show | The Philippine Star News Headlines (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- [In the web] They are Still Killing the Children – www.preda.org (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- [Statement] Human rights defenders in Mindanao condemn the barbaric act committed against three children in Zamboanga City – MATA (hronlineph.wordpress.com)