“She do what you want in the show babe, the kid wants to please you, show her body, show naked and whole body…” This is one of the many messages, signed with the pseudonym “I love my kids,” that a 25-year-old Filipino woman living in the suburbs of Manila sent to a North American man between 2017 and 2018. Flirtatious messages sometimes, regular requests for financial help to pay “the rent” or the “electricity bill” too. Some video calls that went unanswered. But also occasional “with the kid” selfies.
This is not a long-distance relationship, this is the sexual exploitation of a 9-year-old Filipino child, forced by her family to expose herself to the webcam for Westerners in exchange for money.
Originating in the Philippines, these live stream video “shows” of child sexual abuse have been growing steadily over the last decade worldwide, including in France. The problem increased exponentially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Lockdowns exacerbated intra-family violence in the home while pedophile travel plans were thwarted by the closure of borders. Global networks for the prostitution of minors turned increasingly to streaming. With the breakthrough of remote videos, the profile of criminals changed.
Since the children are thousands of miles away and the meeting takes place online, customers for these live streams downplay their participation and do not hesitate to pay for increasingly violent acts. “This has allowed pedophiles who previously confined themselves to downloading images […] to go even further as they commission acts,” explained Barthélémy Hénuier, prosecutor at the Paris juvenile court between 2018 and 2021. He also noted that the use of streaming may have facilitated the act for delinquents who are not very nimble with digital technology.
Fear of losing her ‘boyfriend’
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The profile “I love my kids” does not correspond with her clients on some secret messaging app or by browsing the dark web, but through mainstream platforms such as Facebook Messenger or Skype, services that Filipinos use daily on their smartphones. Many Filipino child traffickers connect with Europeans and Americans on public forums and pornographic websites or even simply by sending them friend requests via Facebook.
Michel (presumed innocent, his first name has been changed), a French retiree now under investigation for complicity in “rape of a minor” and “aggravated human being trafficking,” met at least five women on Chaturbate. On this online sexual relations site via webcam, he specifically sought relations with Asian women. Michel then kept in touch by text message or Skype for several months before paying for videos of child abuse. “Without any particular reason, just to express your gratitude that we had a good time… […] We managed to have nice discussions outside of sex,” he explained to investigators.
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