Stacey Dooley: Gypsy Kids in Crisis
Caught between anti-gypsy hostility, demands of child protection services, and growing up in struggling families, Stacey explores if there’s any hope for Hungary’s Roma gypsy kids in care.
Stacey Dooley Investigates: Mums Selling Their Kids For Sex
Stacey Dooley returns to the Philippines to make a complex and chilling film about Filipino mothers who sexually abuse children, often their own, live in front of webcams in exchange for money.
For one week, Stacey gets unique access to Mike, an undercover Special Agent from ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and follows an secret operation in which HSI hope to arrest several mothers who are selling their own children for sex. These women not only perform live sex shows, but also traffic their children for hands-on abuse to travelling paedophiles – many of whom come from the US and the UK.
Stacey watches as Mike chats live online to mothers who are offering him sex with their own children, some as young as 7, for as little as $18. Over the next few days, he plans to meet them, arrest the mothers and rescue the children.
Over the last 2 years, Mike has infiltrated a group of online paedophiles and discovered how perpetrators from across the globe were pay to direct live sex shows in the Philippines involving young children. He tells Stacey how nothing is off limits, including torture and murder.
During the take-downs, Mike, works closely with HSI Philippine attaché office and the Philippine’s NBI (National Bureau of Investigations) who will conduct the arrest.
The first targets are two sisters who have been abusing a large group of children, some their own, for at least two years. It’s taken Mike all this time to gather enough evidence to ensure a successful arrest and conviction of the sisters in the Philippines (where cybersex was only criminalised in 2012).
But for Mike, it’s not just about arresting the mothers who instigate the exploitation; it’s crucial he rescue all the children he’s identified during his investigation and end their abuse. Normally when conducting these operations, Mike travels to the traffickers, but this time he wants both targets and all the children to come to him. If he only takes down one mother, the other will disappear – and the children could be lost forever. He rents a private villa and arranges for both mothers to bring all the children.
As the day of the arrest gets closer, the atmosphere intensifies, everyone is aware that arresting the mothers and ending the abuse is paramount, but they all know the family will be torn apart, the children will go into government shelters. It’s a sad and complex situation and there are no winners.
Using secret cameras, Stacey can see what’s happening in the room next door in real time, she hears the mothers making the deal, explaining to Mike which children can be left with him for the weekend, what he can do with them and what the children will do to each other. Once the money is exchanged, they are arrested. The women are led away, the children are comforted and taken to safe secure shelters where they will be given emotional and psychological support. The women face life in prison and the children may never go home.
Following the arrest, and with only few days left in the Philippines, Mike and the team attempt to arrest another of his targets. This mother is so persistent, she has contacted him one hundred and fifty-seven times in seven hours. She and her cousin bring two children to a hotel, telling Mike he can do whatever he wants. Stacey can see quite clearly the happy faces of the mothers as they take Mike’s money, seconds before the arrest team crash into the room to arrest them. The women immediately deny everything whilst the two children scream as they cling onto their mother. It’s harrowing and heartrending for everyone involved – including Stacey.
During both operations, Stacey experiences how emotionally challenging this type of work can be. Primarily for the children who are subjected to the abuse, and whose lives are torn apart during the rescue operations. She hears how difficult the work is for the agents involved, some of whom have children of their own.
After arresting four mothers and rescuing fifteen children, HSI are now going after the customers identified from the two busts.
A True Vision Production for BBC 3
To view the screener please contact Amy Kemp.
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