A virtual girl frames the ogres

Online campaign against paedophilia promoted by Terre des Hommes Holland and Lemz Amsterdam

The ogre is online and harasses his victims from behind a computer screen. Predators are anonymous; they know that they are safe, disguised by pseudonyms, with non-traceable prepaid credit cards, logging on from distant sites. They seek children on social networks, chat rooms and dating websites. Nothing stops them. Traditional weapons are useless against online paedophilia and criminals often get away with it, so technology came into play, with surprising results. Fight on sexual tourism via webcam. The last-born is ‘Sweetie’. She’s the avatar girl protagonist of the Terres des Hommes Holland campaign bearing the same name in collaboration with Lemz Amsterdam for the fight on child sexual tourism via webcam. Simulation seems so real that in 2013, thanks to this virtual Philippine 10-year-old girl, over one thousand adults were caught in the process of paying children in Developing Countries in exchange for sexual activity in front of a webcam. Whoever may have the insane doubt that it’s less serious to limit oneself to watching than resorting to concrete physical violence should bear in mind that in the case of webcam sex abuse the devastation of the mental health of girls and boys is comparable to the violence caused by physical abuse. Victims suffer from post-traumatic disorders, serious guilt feelings, poor self-esteem syndromes and depression. They put into practice self-destructive behaviours resorting to drugs and alcohol to find a way to escape from their problems. A form of exploitation. On a daily basis, tens of thousands of men (most of whom from Western countries) use their webcams to see children coerced into sexual relations. Although the prohibition of this form of exploitation is stipulated in dozens of international and national laws of almost all Countries, the same regulations are rarely applied because the victims, who are children, don’t file complaints to the police. The video is on YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/sweetie) and it has been published in several languages. Over one billion people saw the campaign which was awarded a Gold Cannes Lions in the area of Promo & Activation. Arrests in several Countries. The campaign has proven the effectiveness of this investigation technique to stop paedophiles. On the basis of evidence collected thanks to Sweetie, in Countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Belgium and South Africa it was possible for the police to arrest a high number of paedophiles who acted online undisturbed. Before the launch of the campaign only six people in the whole world were judged guilty of this tragic and shameful crime. Glancing through the images of the video it is striking to see the rapidity and voracity with which, once the profile of the virtual girl was made public in online chats, the contact page was literally loaded with increasingly serious sexual requests from all over the world. No need to travel to hurt. The UN and FBI estimate that 750 paedophiles are online every day. It’s not hard to conclude that since the global demand is so high and it is increasingly easier to access the Internet at low costs in Developing Countries, measures should be taken before it’s too late. Before the number of victims rise in a world that has suddenly shrunk, that is so interconnected that not even travelling is needed to hurt. If it’s possible to frame the culprits it means that online paedophilia can be thwarted. Even thanks to a child that doesn’t exist, but that seeks revenge on behalf of all those without a voice.

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