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Poverty and population growth have driven child exploitation in the Philippines for decades. Pat Roque/AP
Philippines webcam child abuse arrests come after decades of exploitation and inequality

in PHILIPPINES, 19/01/2014

Long before the advent of the internet, the Philippines was a prime destination for Western child sex tourists. The US military presence in the country during and following the Vietnam War fuelled a demand for prostitution that has grown today to massive proportions.

It was in this context that 17 British men and three Australians were arrested as part of an international police operation to disrupt a Philippines-based network that charged money to stream online video of children being sexually abused. Investigations in 14 countries have led to 29 arrests in the case overall, including 11 in the Philippines.

The investigation in the Philippines has focused on an impoverished village on Cebu island, which is a well-known hub for child prostitution of “alarming” proportions. It has been estimated that up to 80 households in the village are alleged to have been involved in the live streaming of child abuse.

NGOs report that tens of thousands of other children may be subject to similar abuse. Parents rent computers and UBS internet connections locally and then use internet chatrooms to find potential “clients” and negotiate a fee, which is then paid through international money transfers.

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