There is an alarming trend in the sexual exploitation of children online in Indonesia, according to research by End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT).
The NGO's research, which had been conducted from 2012 up to the present, showed that in big cities such as Jakarta, Bandung in West Java, and Surabaya in East Java, many children were exploited online via social media, websites and messaging applications by pimps.
"Online mediums are used to exploit children sexually, but the physical exploitation happens offline," said ECPAT Indonesia coordinator Ahmad Sofian in Menteng, Central Jakarta on Wednesday.
Ahmad explained that common practices to exploit children included recruiting children via social media, establishing websites where service users had to pay to see the children, and taking pictures of the children and selling them to pedophile networks.
Data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) showed that there were 18,747 Indonesian children sexually exploited via social media in 2012, much higher than neighboUring countries such as Singapore and Vietnam, with 199 and 108, respectively.
In Bandung, the NGO found 257 cases of child trafficking for sexual purposes.
A case of online prostitution involving three children aged 14 to 17 was also recently uncovered in an apartment in Kalibata, South Jakarta.