By Evie Andreou
AMONG the 1,000 paedophiles identified during the ten-week project dubbed ‘Sweetie 1000’, was a person from Cyprus, the head of the project Hans Guyt said on Wednesday.
The project, that ran in 71 countries last year by the international children’s rights group Terre des Hommes, used a virtual character ‘Sweetie’, a 10-year-old girl from the Philippines to identify internet sex offenders that were reported to Interpol.
According to Guyt, more than 20,000 visitors attempted to get in contact with 10-year-old virtual Sweetie, while the 1,000 identified were ‘casual paedophiles’ meaning average people with families and children from various age groups. Among them was one woman.
He said that the website’s visitors knew Sweetie was a 10-year-old child and that all the people identified wanted to pay for the sex-show the girl would provide.
Guyt said that sex crimes against children must be fought at the level of demand and that the next step for the organisation, Sweetie 02, will seek out the reasons that lead paedophiles to crime and especially internet crime.
He said that it was easy to identify the 1,000 sex offenders through the social media and Facebook.
“It was easy because they thought no-one would catch them,” he said.
He added that studies show that one in four people that seek cyber sex with minors, will exercise physical sexual violence. The first conviction of one of the 1,000 sexual perpetrators that attempted to buy sexual services from Sweetie has already taken place in Australia. According to FBI data, Guyt said, 750,000 paedophiles are online at any given moment, while 40,000 chat rooms are “phishing” children for paedophiles.
Other forms of child sexual exploitation is the ‘cottage industry’, he said, where the parents push their children to crime from their own homes, and it is more difficult to clamp down on ‘cybersex dens’ which lie in the sphere of organised crime.
He said that among the countries where children are exposed to this crime are Cambodia, Indonesia and African counties.
Guyt urged everyone to “frighten paedophiles into feeling vulnerable” by signing the online petition to gather 1,000,000 signatures as a form of pressure to governments to activate prosecuting authorities to clamp down on webcam child sex tourism.
The presentation was organised by the non-governmental organisation “Hope for Children” as part of the European ‘One in Five’ campaign to raise awareness against child sexual abuse and exploitation.
Antonis Stylianou, spokesman of Hope for Children, said that the goal is to reduce the number of children that are sexually abused from one in five to none.
The petition can be found at https://www.youtube.com/user/sweetie