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Cyber Sex Trafficking

Victims of Cyber Sex Trafficking are predominantly women and children, some have been abducted, threatened, or deceived and others are drugged. Victims are held captive and locked up in rooms with windows that are covered or with no windows and a webcam where they experience physical and psychological trauma.

Gang rape has occurred on webcam.

Some victims are coerced into incest.

Victims have been denied food, deprived of sleep, and been forced to in to sexual activities when sick.
Many victims have contracted diseases, including tuberculosis, while in captivity.
Many women and children are assaulted and tortured.

Victims can be exploited in any location where the cybersex traffickers have a computer, tablet, or phone with an internet connection.

These locations that are commonly referred to as “cybersex dens” can be in hotels, offices, internet cafes, homes and many other businesses, making them extremely difficult or impossible for law enforcement to identify.

The number of cybersex trafficking victims is unknown.

Some victims are simultaneously forced into prostitution on streets in brothels or other locations.
Some victims may not have been physically transported and held captive, but rather they are victims of online sextortion, after being threatened or bullied to film themselves committing online sexual acts.
Many victims are coerced to self-penetrate, in what has been called “rape at a distance”.

People are deceived by people who portray to be romantic partners, however they are rape or child pornography disturbers, who force their victims into performing sexual acts.

The videos are then live streamed for people to purchase or recorded for later sale.

Child (Sexual) Exploitation: 

British children in particular are trafficked by organised groups who groom them, then ply them with gifts, alcohol and drugs before they are forced into prostitution.

Human trafficking and slavery may seem like a relic from a bygone era, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Slavery auctions, where humans are sold off to the highest bidder, are still happening today. Although slavery is now illegal in every country around the world, there are more slaves today than there were over the hundreds of years of slave trafficking that took place between the 16th and 19th century.

“To dismiss “slavery” as being merely reminiscent of an era remote from contemporary life in the United Kingdom is wrong. In the modern world exploitation can and does take place.”

Human trafficking and slavery is a global pandemic, affecting millions of vulnerable individuals. We’re only just beginning to grasp the scale of modern slavery- and our efforts to combat it are barely making a dent on the problem.

Trafficking is a recognised by the international community as a serious crime and a flagrant violation of human rights. Trafficking violates victims’ integrity and dignity and results in a reduction in opportunities, quality of life, health, freedom, and autonomy.

Definition of human trafficking. ‘The essence of human trafficking is the acquisition of control over people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them.’

British counter‐trafficking legislation draws upon the definition in the United Nations’ (UN) (2000) Palermo Protocol. This defines human trafficking as:

‘The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal, manipulation or implantation of organs.’

This definition involves 3 aspects:

  1. Act: The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons
  2. Means: threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits (- where children are involved, this is irrelevant because children cannot legally consent).
  3. Purpose: for exploitation; ‘trafficked persons are victims of coercion, threat and extortion, false imprisonment, forced prostitution, domestic violence, rape or sexual assaults, and in some cases manslaughter or murder.’7

Sex trafficking is officially defined as: a “modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years.”US Dept. of State 2012
It involves relationships of power, specifically, the abusive relationship of power, in which one person has ‘power over’ another individual, controlling their behaviour and actions.

The United Kingdom’s Policing and Crime Act of 2009 made it illegal to purchase sex from someone who has been forced into prostitution, and allows men to be prosecuted for soliciting a prostituted person the first time that they are apprehended.

Trafficking doesn’t necessarily have to involve transporting victims across borders. Trafficking is both a global and a domestic crime, with victims trafficked within their own country, to neighbouring countries and between continents. Trafficking does not require transportation or the crossing of international borders; women and children are victimized by trafficking in their own countries and abroad. In fact, the majority of victims are trafficked within their own country.

‘… despite increased academic and policy interest in trafficking, the discourse has focused overwhelmingly on international trafficking, neglecting the ‘unique characteristics and challenges’ of internal, or domestic, trafficking.’

‘Pimps pride themselves on tricking their victims into selling their bodies for money and thinking that they have freely chosen to do it. The reality is quite different.’

The concept of ‘consent’ is important: ‘Victims of trafficking often consent to illegal entrance into a country or agree to work. This consent is often obtained through deception or fraud. Even when victims agree to work in prostitution, they do not consent to the inhumane conditions to which they are forced to work and live. The U. N. Trafficking Protocol makes it clear that consent is negated under these conditions. Furthermore, in the case of children under the age of 18, deception and fraud are not necessary preconditions.’

Trafficking is inherently related to slavery.‘Whilst the term trafficking is commonly used, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ((UNODC) 2009) argues that the term ‘trafficking’ is misleading due to the focus it places on the transaction rather than the human aspects of the crime arguing that ‘enslavement’ is more accurate. As such, human trafficking exploration and reporting falls under the umbrella of ‘Modern Slavery’- a term more commonly used in the UK and relating to specific legal situations relating to forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, slavery, slavery-like practices and human trafficking.

Types of Sex Trafficking

The face of human trafficking is constantly changing as traffickers find the most profitable and effective means of exploitation. Often, traffickers will exploit victims in multiple different ways. Reasons for human trafficking include: labour exploitation; domestic servitude; forced criminality: child soldiers: organ harvesting; and sexual exploitation.

‘Forced prostitution represents the greatest percentage of the human trafficking as sexual exploitation population, with a majority of victims being women from Europe, Central Asia, and North and South America.’’

Forms of trafficking for sexual exploitation include:
Commercial sexual exploitation: where women and children are trafficked into prostitution (including through brothels and escort agencies), pornography and every part of the sex industry. They may be trafficked by a pimp, a partner, a family member or by a gang or criminal group.

Forced Marriage: where women and girls are forced into marriage without their consent. They are denied the option to refuse or are promised and married to another by their parents, guardians, relatives or other people and groups.’ Forced marriages often involves domestic abuse and sexual abuse or exploitation.

‘Mail-Order Brides’: this involves poor women and girls being chosen from a ‘catalogue’ and ordered by a man in a more affluent country to become a ‘wife.’ Often, the women are trafficked illegally, stripped of rights and subject to domestic violence, abuse and servitude. In addition to abuse in the home, sometimes the women are forced into prostitution.
Cyber Sex Trafficking (CSE): this is the live-streaming sexual exploitation of children viewed over the internet. Unlike abuse that occurs bars or brothels with a permanent address, cybersex trafficking victims can be moved to and abused in any location with an internet connection and a webcam, or just a mobile phone.
Child (Sexual) Exploitation: British children in particular are trafficked by organised groups who groom them, ply them with gifts, alcohol and drugs and then force them into prostitution.

…many child victims of trafficking in the UK are actually bought and sold within the country. The UK government believes there are currently 13,000 children being exploited in this way.

CEASE (Centre to end all sexual exploitation)

Cybersex trafficking, or live streaming sexual abuse is a cybercrime involving sex trafficking and the live streaming of coerced sexual acts and/or rape on webcam.

Cybersex trafficking is distinct from other sex crimes.

Victims are transported by traffickers to ‘cybersex dens’, which are locations with webcams and internet-connected devices with live streaming software. There, victims are forced to perform sexual acts on themselves or other people in sexual slavery or raped by the traffickers or assisting assaulters in live videos. Victims are frequently ordered to watch the paying live distant consumers or purchasers on shared screens and follow their commands. It is often a commercialised, cyber form of forced prostitution. Women, children, and people in poverty are particularly vulnerable to coerced internet sex. The computer-mediated communication images produced during the crime are a type of rape pornography or child pornography that is filmed and broadcast in real time and can be recorded.

There is no data about the magnitude of cybersex trafficking in the world.

The technology to detect all incidents of the live streaming crime has not been developed yet.

Millions of reports of cybersex trafficking are sent to authorities annually. It is a billion-dollar, illicit industry that was brought on with the Digital Age and is connected to globalisation. It has surged from the world-wide expansion of telecommunications and global proliferation of the internet and smartphonesparticularly in developing countries. It has also been facilitated by the use of software, encrypted communication systems, and network technologies that are constantly evolving, as well as the growth of international online payment systems with wire transfer services and cryptocurrencies that hide the transactor’s identities.

The transnational nature and global scale of cybersex trafficking necessitate a united response by the nations, corporations, and organisations of the world to reduce incidents of the crime; protect, rescue, and rehabilitate victims; and arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. Some governments have initiated advocacy and media campaigns that focus on awareness of the crime. They have also implemented training seminars held to teach law enforcement, prosecutors, and other authorities, as well as NGO workers, to combat the crime and provide trauma-informed aftercare service. New legislation combating cybersex trafficking is needed in the twenty-first century.

Cyber-, as a combining form, is defined as ‘connected with electronic communication networks, especially the internet.’ Sex traffickingis human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery. Victims of cybersex trafficking are trafficked or transported to ‘cybersex dens,’ which are rooms or locations with a webcam. The cybercrime also involves the transporting or streaming of images of the victims’ bodies and sexual assaults in real time through a computer with a webcam to other computers connected to the internet. It thus occurs partly in the physical or real world, as the sexual assault is real, and partly in cyberspace.

Victims, predominantly women and children, are abducted, threatened, or deceived. Others are drugged. They are held captive and locked up in rooms with covered or no windows and a webcam. They experience physical and psychological trauma. Gang rape has occurred on webcam. Some are coerced into incest. Victims have been denied food, deprived of sleep, and been forced to perform when sick. They have contracted diseases, including tuberculosis, while in captivity. A number are assaulted or tortured.

Victims can be exploited in any location where the cybersex traffickers have a computer, tablet, or phone with internet connection. These locations, commonly referred to as ‘cybersex dens,’ can be in homes, hotels, offices, internet cafes, and other businesses, making them extremely difficult or impossible for law enforcement to identify. The number of cybersex trafficking victims is unknown. Some victims are simultaneously forced into prostitution in a brothel or other location.

Rescues involving live streaming commercial sexual exploitation of children by parents often require a separation of the minors from the families and new lives for them in a shelter.

Some victims are not physically transported and held captive, but rather victims of online sextortion. They are threatened, webcam blackmailed, or bullied to film themselves committing online sexual acts. Victims have been coerced to self-penetrate, in what has been called ‘rape at a distance.’

Others are deceived, including by phony romantic partners who are really rape or child pornography distributors, to film themselves masturbating.The videos are live streamed to purchasers or recorded for later sale.

Those marginalised through poverty, conflict, social exclusion, discrimination, or other social disadvantages are at an increased risk of being victimised. The cybersex trafficking and or non-consensual dissemination of sexual content involving women and girls, often involving threats, have been referred to as “digital gender violence” or ‘online gender-based violence.’

Victims, despite being coerced, continue to be criminalised and prosecuted in certain jurisdictions.

Traffickers transport victims to locations with webcams and live streaming software. They or assisting assaulters then commit and film sex crimes to produce real time rape pornography or child pornography materials that may or may not be recorded. The online audience or consumers, who are often from another country, may issue commands to the victims or rapers and pay for the services. Male and female perpetrators, operating behind a virtual barrier and often with anonymity, come from countries throughout the world and from every social and economic class. Some traffickers and assaulters have been the victims family members, friends, and acquaintances.Traffickers can be part of or aided by international criminal organisations, local gangs, or small crime rings or just be one person. They operate clandestinely and sometimes lack coordinated structures that can be eradicated by authorities. The majority of purchasers or consumers are men. Impunity is a problem. The encrypted nature of modern technology makes it difficult to track perpetrators. They are motivated by greed and or sexual gratification. Traffickers advertise children on the internet to obtain purchasers. Funds acquired by cybersex traffickers can be laundered

Overseas predators seek out and pay for live streaming or made-to-order services that sexually exploit children. They engage in threat to gain the trust of local traffickers, often the victims’ parents or neighbours, before the abuse takes place.

Cybersex trafficking is partly an internet-based crime.

Perpetrators use social media networks, videoconferences, dating pages, online chat rooms, mobile appsdark websites, and other pages and domains. They also use Telegram (software) and other cloud-based instant messaging and voice over IP services, as well as peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms, virtual private networks (VPN), and Tor protocols and software, among other applications, to carry out activities anonymously.

Consumers have made payments to traffickers, who are sometimes the victim’s family members, using Western UnionPayPal, and other electronic payment systems

Dark webEdit

Cybersex trafficking occurs commonly on some dark websites, where users are provided sophisticated technical cover against identification.

Social mediaEdit

Perpetrators utilise Facebook and other social media technologies.


Cybersex trafficking occurs on Skype and other videoconferencing applications.

Pedophiles direct child sex abuse using its live streaming services.


Reporting modern slavery

Slavery may be closer to you than you think. There could be victims of exploitation working in domestic servitude or forced labour on your street. 

If you suspect modern slavery, report it to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or the police on 101. In an emergency always call 999. Don’t leave it to someone else. Your information could save a life.


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