Photo Credit: TICAC
Over time, we have (collectively, as a global society) put unlimited access to unlimited content at the fingertips of children. Furthermore, we have encouraged young people to digitally record every aspect of their lives. Subsequently, we have created financial incentives to post and share such recordings. What could possibly go wrong?
In one of our team's last cases of 2019 (one of 54 cases that HUG was able to assist with last year), an underage girl was filmed by her underage boyfriend performing sexual acts. After the couple broke up, the ex-boyfriend sold the footage to subscription-based groups through various applications such as Line (popular in Thailand), VK (popular in Russia), and Twitter.
In a subscription-based business model, customers pay a recurring price (such as a monthly fee) for access to material (in this case, child pornography). In Thailand, once such material has been exchanged for monetary value (the boyfriend receiving payment for photos/video), it is potentially a human-trafficking case.
This case is heartbreaking on many levels. First, the victim will feel the trauma of having these images circulating around the world for the rest of her life. Second, the accused offender is also under 18. Finally, this pattern of youth-produced material being sold online is exploding worldwide. Ironically, the material itself seems to be fueling more demand.
Sometimes it feels like our team is swimming against a tidal wave. However, we are making progress! In this case, for example, we were able to partner with TICAC (Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children) to help put together the case, and to assist the victim. We are grateful for your generosity- which enables HUG to conduct trafficking prevention, aid investigations, and provide survivor support. Together, we can turn the tide!