Child focus warns against cyber prostitution
Belgium's centre for missing and sexually exploited children, is warning against the increase of cyber prostitution involving minors.10 November 2008
Research carried out by Child focus shows that prostitution in cyberspace is on the increase.
Stephanie De Smet told the VRT: "There's been a shift in prostitution among youngsters away from the street and the bars to cyberspace. Youngsters create profiles, start chatting with adults and agree to perform certain acts on cam in return for ready cash."
Some youngsters are very streetwise and try to make a killing. Often it's more subtle and the prostitution only occurs after an adult has gained their confidence in a chat room.
Stephanie explains: "Sometimes a guy says you are so beautiful. There are girls with low esteem. He says you are so beautiful, can you send me a pic of your breasts. I won't show anybody else. The girls then send a photo in return for cash. Sometimes as little as 25 euros."
"Industry should self-regulate"
Child focus has spoken with care workers, public prosecutors and the police services.
There are no clear figures about prostitution in cyberspace, but Childfocus is calling for greater checks.
Stephanie continues: "This is why we are asking for self regulation so that youngsters can choose to keep records of conversations online. If something goes wrong, there is then evidence that you can take to the police or that can help you to take legal steps."