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MANILA Thomson Reuters Foundation - It was the half-naked girls running from room to room upon her arrival that made Filipina teenager Ruby fear the cyber cafe job she had been offered online might in fact be a sinister scam. Ruby is not a rare case but one of a rising of ever-younger victims of cybersex trafficking - a form of modern-day slavery where children are abused and raped over livestreams. The Philippines is seen by rights groups as the epicenter of the growing trade, which they say has been fueled by access to cheap internet and technology, the high level of English, well-established money wiring services and rampant poverty.
The Southeast Asian nation receives at least 3, reports per month from other countries of possible cases of its children being sexually exploited online - a which has tripled in the last three years - according to its justice department. Yet the crime is difficult to police as most victims are exploited by their own relatives in a country with very high levels of sex abuse within families and a culture of silence in communities that stops people speaking out, campaigners say. And Filipino abusers and paying clients, from Australia to Canada to Germany, are outfoxing law enforcement by mixing up payment methods, turning to cryptocurrencies, and broadcasting over encrypted livestreams which cannot be traced by police.
The crime is not only growing in the Philippines, but across the region, from Cambodia to Vietnam, as the standard of English and access to technology and internet improves, activists said. The biggest obstacle to tackling the crime at its source is a widespread belief within communities that making Free cyber sex asian appear naked on webcam is a victimless act, rights groups say. Driving through the narrow, winding streets of a crowded slum in Manila, local police investigators pointed to rows of ramshackle homes crowned with gleaming white satellite dishes.
At least 40 percent of the Filipino population had access to the internet as ofup from a quarter inand about 5 percent inaccording to World Bank data. Activists are trying to challenge community-wide complicity in the crime by encouraging local council and church leaders, neighborhood watch groups and social workers to report abuses.
Yet contradictions between various laws, few convictions for cybersex trafficking, and the fact the age of sexual consent is 12 have all fueled long-entrenched impunity, campaigners warn.
No data exists on the of child victims of cybersex trafficking, but at leastpeople in the Philippines - or one in - are estimated to be trapped in modern slavery, found the Global Slavery Index by the Walk Free Foundation. The plethora of social media sites, messaging and video call apps and online payment services make it easy for Filipinos to connect with global buyers and stream sex abuse undetected.
Web and online money companies must do more to spot abusers, yet criminals can easily jump between platforms, said a U. t operations with nations such as Britain, the United States and Norway could swing the tide as clients realize they can be punished at home, added the investigator, who did not disclose his name as he was not authorized to discuss his work. Senator Loren Legarda urged tougher global action from such countries to lower the demand by raising their penalties.
But with cybersex abusers and customers playing a game of cat-and-mouse with law enforcement, Ruby fears that countless other girls will have to endure the same abuse as she did. While Ruby has been able to rebuild her life with the help of the IJM - she is studying English with hopes of becoming a lawyer - as she escaped slavery after two months, she wept as she recalled the suffering of other girls trapped in the trade.
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Webcam slavery: tech turns Filipino families into cybersex child traffickers