Hungry for justice: Harsh realities of child abuse

Shay Cullen
'Authorities have vital questions to answer and all of us must challenge politicians and corporations everywhere and act to end such crimes and do justice for the children'

There is a true and very important saying what we all need to listen and learn from: “There is no peace when there is no justice.” The truth of this is seen and felt by thousands of people around the world who never forget the injustices they have suffered.  

Hurt and pain are the realities that we humans carry with us through out our lives. Much of it happens in families and schools. Children could be scared for life. They suffer much more when they are victims of sexual and physical abuse.   

Rejection, exclusion, abuse, and hurt feelings during childhood could shape and mold one’s character. Some cope better than others. Abused children could be crippled emotionally and psychologically, they may experience depression, and some take their own lives. On the extreme side, some children are even murdered on live videos viewed by pedophiles across the globe.  

Are we going to allow this?   

Abused children carry the memories into late adult life because as children they are unable to challenge and confront their abusers and demand justice. The culture of ignoring the individual personality and rights of children is part of this injustice. 

Some of these children might grow up with a grudge and an unfulfilled desire for justice. As a result, they seek revenge.

When whole communities are oppressed and exploited, they may become angry and seek redress through protests which may then lead to confrontation and violence.

Perhaps, this is why thousands of young people are flooding to Syria to join the ISIS as fighters. Perhaps they see it as a means for a bloody revenge against the world they have come to hate. 

Prior to the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, there were only a few laws that fully protect children. The high status given to a child in the Gospel values were generally ignored for 2,000 years. Since the approval of UN Convention, all member states had to draft their laws based on the convention document.

But are those laws really and wholeheartedly implemented and beneficial to children? In the Philippines, experience shows that mostly they are not. 

Some police officers, prosecutors, and judges are more favorable to the abusers than to the children. More accused child abusers and rapists are allowed to go free than are convicted.

The reasons are many: corruption, bribery, favoritism, lack of respect for the law, and the incompetence of authorities.

There are still, however, some honest and hardworking judges. But they are all too few.

Children cannot and should not have to wait years for justice. Justice based on clear evidence is essential for healing. Children get witness fatigue and despair from the long and winding court procedures.

Lawyers working for the accused get paid per hearing, that’s apart from a retainer fee. It’s in their interest to prolong the case to earn more money. Some hope to win by wearing down the complainants, so that they would give up. What happens then? Rapists gets away with their crimes.

CHILD ABUSE. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) handled 180 cases of sexually exploited children in 2014, but many other cases go unreported. Photo by Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler  Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler

Ignored laws

Some child protection laws are also allegedly ignored.  

Telecommunications companies are allegedly not complying with the anti-child pornography law of 2009. They have made no statement of compliance with the law. This law was passed in 2009, explicitly ordering Internet Service Providers to install software blocking the transmission of child porn images.

National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)  officials are apparently looking the other way. Can anyone conclude that they see nothing wrong with children being sexually abused and raped? Surely not. The shareholders of these companies are likewise in violation of the law. Victims of child pornography should file charges against telecommunication companies that violate not only national laws, but also chidlren’s rights.

Now we see the likely result of this connivance and colluding between big business and government officials: Horrific crimes against children continue every day through the Internet. Filters have not been installed as the law states, and pornography is readily available on the smartphones of children.

A prime example of this is the dirty work of Australian Peter Scully and his local helpers. They made videos of a screaming 18-month old baby being tortured. The videos were sold across the US and Europe.

Is this a civilized count, is Christianity dead? Is the Philippines a morally failed state? The authorities have vital questions to answer and all of us must challenge politicians and corporations everywhere and act to end such crimes and do justice for the children. –

Fr. Shay Cullen is a Missionary priest from Ireland and a member of the Missionary Society of St. Columban and Founder. He is the president of Preda Foundation-Philippines, a non-governmental organization protecting women and children from abuse and sex slavery. He has been nominated 3 times for the Nobel Peace Prize, and received other human rights awards. He can be reached at

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.