More kids be­come vic­tims of ‘bru­tal’ on­line sex abuse

Kuwait Times - - International -

LON­DON: Chil­dren are be­ing sex­u­ally ex­ploited, traf­ficked and sold on­line on an un­prece­dented scale as tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances en­able abusers to tar­get vic­tims with im­punity, a coali­tion of gov­ern­ments, char­i­ties and tech com­pa­nies said yes­ter­day. The global spread of cheap, high-speed in­ter­net and the rise in mo­bile phone own­er­ship is fu­elling the growth of cy­ber­sex traf­fick­ing, which has be­come a “bru­tal form of mod­ern-day slav­ery”, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Bri­tain-led We­Pro­tect. From Bri­tain and the United States to In­dia and the Philip­pines, chil­dren are be­ing abused over livestreams and sold for sex - of­ten via so­cial me­dia and clas­si­fied ad­ver­tis­ing web­sites - for ever-cheaper prices, anti-traf­fick­ing groups say.

“It has never been eas­ier to abuse chil­dren on­line,” Baroness Joanna Shields, founder of We­Pro­tect - an al­liance to end child ex­ploita­tion on­line - told the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion from the End Violence So­lu­tions Sum­mit in Stockholm. “Tech­nol­ogy ... is pro­vid­ing of­fend­ers with un­prece­dented ac­cess to vic­tims, new ca­pa­bil­i­ties and in­creas­ing con­fi­dence to abuse chil­dren on a mass scale,” added Shields, pre­vi­ously an ex­ec­u­tive at Face­book and Bri­tain’s in­ter­net safety min­is­ter. While there is no data on the scale of the crime glob­ally, the United Na­tions chil­dren’s agency UNICEF es­ti­mates 1.8 mil­lion chil­dren are traf­ficked into the sex trade ev­ery year.

In the Philip­pines alone - con­sid­ered by cam­paign­ers to be the epi­cen­tre of the live-stream sex abuse trade po­lice re­ceive thou­sands of cy­ber­sex traf­fick­ing re­fer­rals each month, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Jus­tice Mis­sion (IJM), a char­ity. On­line child abuse and traf­fick­ing is dif­fi­cult to tackle be­cause the crimes tran­scend bor­ders, with limited co­or­di­na­tion be­tween coun­tries, while abusers use the lat­est tech­nolo­gies to stay a step ahead of law en­force­ment, the We­Pro­tect re­port said. “Im­punity has en­abled di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of their meth­ods of op­er­a­tion, re­sult­ing in new and per­sis­tent threats,” it said.

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