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article imagePhilippine police close-down another online 'sextortion' ring

By Karen Graham     Aug 23, 2014 in Crime
On Friday, Philippine police arrested eight people suspected of running an online sexual extortion racket involving children and preying on Asians. Laptops and other equipment were seized.
Head of the police anti-cyber crime group, Gilbert Sosa said the group extorted money from foreigners by threatening to upload videos on the Internet of them performing sexual acts, according to Reuters.
"Today, we smashed a gang led by a woman who used children to lure foreigners to engage in sexual activities and later blackmail them on threats their sex videos will be uploaded on the Internet," Sosa said.
While engaging in raids in two towns in Bulacan, north of Manila, police found five minor children. The children said they were paid $1,600 (70,000 pesos) for three days work, chatting with foreigners and luring them into performing sexual acts with them.
Philippine police were tipped off about the extortion ring when they received dozens of complaints from Hong Kong and Singapore. They were given IP addresses and other information about the sextortion ring.
Child sex tourism has been a serious problem in the Philippines. A Trafficking in Persons report from 2010 estimated there were 60,000 child prostitutes in the Philippines. Today, that number is closer to 100,000. The commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) was defined by the World Congress against CSEC in 1996 as being: "sexual abuse by the adult and remuneration in cash or kind to the child or a third person or persons. The child is treated as a sexual object and as a commercial object."
Sadly, the causes of child sexual exploitation are varied, but almost always influenced by the economic conditions of the country where it is occurring. It is not uncommon for mothers or fathers to sell their children for monetary gain, nor is it uncommon for children themselves to be duped into thinking they are going to work as babysitters or gardeners, but then find themselves slaves in the sex trade.
One frightening new development in the child sex trade is the advent of online "cyber sex." In this form of CSEC, children are expected to perform, alone or with another child, sex acts for customers online before a web-cam. Paying $56 or more a minute, customers type in their instructions on the computer and watch them being carried out via a web-cam.
While no concrete statistics exist, authorities say there are tens of thousands of females, women and young girls involved in cyber sex. It is difficult to track down because it takes place in the privacy of homes, or secluded rooms and no one is the wiser. Often it is the mothers themselves that encourage their daughters to perform before the web-cams, thinking that their children are not being violated in the way traditional sexual encounters would hurt them.
Social workers say parents are not thinking about the emotional and psychological problems they are inflicting on their children, but instead, it is all about money and even survival. While there has been a small increase in the number of child sex trafficking convictions in the Philippine court system, convictions are still being hampered by widespread corruption and an inefficient judicial system.
More about Philippines, sextortion, foreign visitors, Cybersex, human sex trafficking
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