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Guijt explained: ‘Five years ago we saw that in brothels in the Philippines there were suddenly fewer children involved in prostitution.At first it seemed to be a positive development, but we discovered that a lot of children were being forced into webcam sex, in many cases even from their own homes.Four of the researchers pretended to be a ten-year-old Filipina girl, christened ' Sweetie' by the researchers because that was the name used most often by men using the chatrooms.Once the Filipino avatars went online, they were approached by men throughout the world, 71 countries in total.Research shows that 1 in 4 people who download child pornography also tries to have sex with children offline.' According to Terre des Hommes, every day thousands of children are victims of webcam sex.Estimates indicate that at any point in time 750,000 men are looking for sex with children via internet in more than 40,000 public chat rooms.At the conference on ‘The legal aspects of Sweetie 2.0’ in Leiden on 2 July, together with Leiden and Tilburg legal experts he presented the outcome of this controversial international study.In 2013, 15 chatbots were active for 10 weeks in online chatrooms for under-age children.
As Terre des Hommes does not have any personal information about these webcam users, the organisation refers to child abusers rather than paedophiles or paedosexuals.Such children become traumatised for life, which manifests itself in sexualised and anxious behaviour.Not only that, they are often absent from school because they spend the whole day in front of the webcam.' There is another important concern to take into consideration.The ‘Sweetie’ study shows the size and nature of webcam child sex tourism worldwide.Terre des Hommes will publish a report on the results of the study at the end of July 2016.