Paedophiles find haven on Facebook

Paedophiles find haven on Facebook
PHOTO: Pixabay

The Jakarta Police have uncovered a closed Facebook group of some 7,000 members alleged to have shared child pornography since last year.

The group, called Official Candy's Group, was open to members only and required those who wanted to join to upload links to videos of child pornography.

Once they had joined, members were required to regularly upload links to child pornography with different victims, thus increasing the number of abused children.

Some of the videos were made by members themselves.

People who uploaded material would have Rp 15,000 (US$1.12) transferred to their PayPal accounts for each click on their video links.

The page, which has now been blocked by Facebook, had approximately 500 videos and 100 pictures containing child pornography.

Police have arrested four administrators of the Facebook page.

Two of the suspects, men aged 25 and 17, have also been accused of abusing eight children, including a 3-year-old.

In light of the incident, the Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry has called on parents to educate their children about sexuality in order to prevent them from being manipulated and becoming victims of crime.

"Let the children learn about their own bodies. They must know that they have private parts that no one else can see or touch," the ministry's deputy for child protection, Pribudiarta Nur Sitepu, said during a press conference.

Abuse of and sexual aggression against minors are rampant in Indonesia, a country that still pays low attention to child protection.

In Jakarta alone, more than 2,000 cases occur every year, most of which are classified as sexual abuse.

Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) head Arist Merdeka Sirait on Wednesday called the incident a wake-up call for the country.

"People must see that repressive measures alone will never be adequate in tackling sexual abuse of children. The government must address the problem from its roots," he said, citing a similar case in August 2016, when police arrested a 41-year-old man in East Jakarta for pimping children.

The commission has initiated a national movement against child prostitution. So far, the group has held counseling sessions for students in several cities in North Sumatra, giving them basic knowledge about their sexuality. "We are hoping to organise more sessions across the country," he said.

The commission, along with the police's cyber crime division, has also mapped several locations of alleged child prostitution syndicates across the country to find out possible connections between them.

"But I cannot disclose the locations, because the investigation is still ongoing," he said.

Indonesia, he explained, had the unfortunate potential to become a new haven for child prostitution.

"We have found footage of child pornography scattered around in the most surprising locations, such as remote villages. The ease of access for pedophiles to channel their fetish through the internet is the reason," he said.

Separately, Jakarta Police cybercrime head Roberto Pasaribu said on Wednesday that his division was still looking into the identities of the group's members.

"We are cooperating with authorities from other countries, including the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], to unravel the identities of the members, because, based on our investigation, one of the administrators has access to foreign pedophile communities," he said.

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