2012 – ‘When Clicking Hurts’: A forum on cybercrime against women and children

November 2012.  The Child Rights Desk of the Ateneo Human Rights Center and the Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma Foundation organized “When Clicking Hurts: A Forum on Cybercrimes against Women and Children” on November 23, 2012 at the Ateneo Professional School auditorium in Rockwell, Makati.  It was conducted to help child care and development work advocates, students, teachers, and non-government organizations come to a better knowledge and understanding of the issue of cybercrimes against women and children.

Three guest speakers shared their knowledge, insights and perspectives on current issues of the cyber world and how it affects people’s lives.  Mrs. Noemi Lardizabal-Dado, a blogger, media publisher and internet entrepreneur talked about the power of social media and its responsible use.  Information posted on the web has a powerful way of influencing or affecting people. This power, she emphasized, should be used responsibly.  She added that the public should take a stand against violence shown in social media.

Sharing and forwarding images or videos to other people should be avoided, and that it is better to get the side of the person of interest in the photo or video before judging him or her.  On the other hand, she urged everyone to use the internet by documenting and reporting tech-related gender violence, commenting on related posts, and demanding change and action.  Online users could identify and report sites that encourage violence against women and children.  Online users should be empowered to use social media or information technology as platforms for activism against gender-based violence.

Criminals have also taken advantage of ICT to harm people and destroy the peace and order in the country according to Police Senior Inspector Jhoanna Gracia Manlapaz of the PNP.  In response to cybercrime, the PNP CIDG Computer Crime Unit conducts investigations on reported cybercrimes against women and children.  Inspector Manlapaz said that there are a minimum of five cases presented to the unit daily involving harassment, trafficking, sexual exploitation, and abuse.  The unit works with different anti-crime agencies and various NGOs and CSOs.  The unit has forensic examiners and trained personnel considered as expert witnesses in court proceedings.  There are currently six regional forensic laboratories in various regions of the country.  The Special Task Force AngelNet, of which Inspector Manlapaz is the Chief, also promotes internet safety and protects children from online dangers.  She, however, added that the country still has to improve its legal mechanism to convict people against cybercrime.  She stressed that to address cybercrime is to work on a strong legal framework, organizational capacity and technological capability.

Finally, the psychological effects of cybercrime was elucidated by Kathleen de Jesus-dela Rosa, a faculty from the Department of Psychology of the Ateneo de Manila University.  Victims of cybercrime affects the person’s whole being: physical symptoms, emotional affects and even the spiritual dimension.  It is necessary, thus, for victims to deal with victimization with their entire being as well.  Different persons of different ages view their being victimized in different ways.  Coping strategies should be appropriate to the respective situation and stage of development of the person.  Child victims need more help in dealing with the effects of cybercrime compared to adult victims.  She pointed out that supportive family members, partners, networks, and friends help victims deal with victimization.  Family counseling and victim support groups are other possible interventions to help, most especially a child, cope with the crisis.

More than 200 participants attended the forum including students from the Justice Cecilia Munoz Palma High School.

(Click on Resources to read all about the forum.)

“When clicking hurts…”: 2012 Legal Forum