The Internet. What would we do without it? It entertains us, educates us, and connects us together – a tool of unlimited potential for good, but unfortunately the way a tool is used is defined by the person using it. And too many use it in the wrong way.
According to Free Malaysia Today, NGOs and experts are sounding the alarm on a fresh wave of online pedophile activity in South East Asia. While certain parts of the region have long been linked to child prostitution activities and the like, the increased connectivity in SEA is leading to a rise of abuse on live-streaming sites and via webcams, paid for with nearly untraceable cryptocurrencies.
François Xavier Souchet of Thai-based NGO Terre des Hommes described how pedophiles utilise platforms like social networks and video sharing sites alongside the dark web to access child rape and sexual abuse content, saying,
“Predators watch the rapes on large platforms that are not likely to close… It’s live, nothing is recorded… everything is encrypted. They pay more and more in Bitcoins, encrypted money makes their transactions as secure as possible.”
A UN report on child sexual abuse in South East Asia also found that child sexual abuse via webcam is a rising cause of human trafficking, and identified Thailand and the Philippines as two major hubs of child sexual abuse content, stating that the creation of said content in the Philippines happens on “an industrial level” and generates up to USD$1 billion a year, while Thailand ranks 6th out of the top 15 child sex abuse image hosting countries.
Image for illustration purposes only. Source: Pixabay
Other South East Asian countries are not immune, with Damian Kean of Thai-based NGO ECPAT noting that cyber-abuse has begun seeping into Cambodia and Vietnam, where social media plays a big part in how these predators approach and recruit victims.
Those are some seriously scary numbers! Parents, do make sure you’re aware of who your children are talking to online, and make a police report if you’re suspicious.
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