The new season of Stacey Dooley Investigates sees her exploring the problems facing some of the world’s most destitute young women and girls. The first episode provides the audience with a harrowing insight into the cyber-sex industry that affects thousands of girls in the Philippines, with some of those involved being as young as eight years old.
By being allowed access into one of the teams whose express purpose is to track down perpetrators of the cyber-sex industry, Dooley’s documentary opens our eyes to the shocking number of people that pay for this service. In just two months, a fake profile created by the authorities attracted 20,000 sexual predators, all willing to pay for the simulated 10 year old girl to perform sexual acts on camera. One thing that was made clear during the documentary was that this is not an unusual case; it is an ongoing sad reality for thousands of young girls in the Philippines.
The programme really is a journey of discovery for Dooley. Her relative naivety on the matter is evident throughout, but only serves to make her presentation more relatable. Her bravery, on the other hand, is commendable. For example, during her unprotected visit of a women’s prison, she attempts to confront to a renowned perpetrator of sexual abuse.
Without doubt the most upsetting scene of the programme was Dooley’s visit to a sanctuary for young girls who have been submitted to sexual abuse, and observing therapy classes that are designed to let them release their anger and frustration in a safe setting. These girls have been rescued from the abuse that they were suffering, and in that sense they are the lucky few. However, witnessing the extreme anger and upset that is present in these tiny children and that drives them to pound their fists against the floor and walls makes for truly distressing viewing.
Dooley kicks off BBC Three’s season of gender-related documentaries with force. The documentary brings its audience face to face with the reality of the cyber-sex industry, and as a result is a piece of truly heart-breaking television.