BANGKOK: Demand for sex with children is an emerging cause of human trafficking in the Mekong region, the United Nations said as it pointed to a shift in child sex webcam centres from the Philippines to Thailand.
The problem had grown so much that demand for child webcam sex tourism is “outstripping the supply”, Deanna Davy, senior research consultant at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said at the launch of a new trafficking report in Bangkok.
Thailand is a regional hub for the smuggling and trafficking of men, women, and children from poorer neighbouring countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar.
Many are forced to work in Thailand’s sex industry and in labour intensive sectors such as fishing, construction, and agriculture, where they are sometimes subject to abuse, according to investigations by rights groups and the media.
Around 4 million migrants live in Thailand, according to 2015 government data. The UNODC estimates between 4% and 23% of migrants in Thailand are trafficking victims.
Jeremy Douglas, regional representative of the UNODC, said recent intelligence showed a shift in child sex abuse webcam centres to Thailand from the Philippines, where authorities have tried to crack down on the illegal trade.
“It used to be the Philippines but through some of our interviews we’ve found that it’s moving here and we’re seeing some indications that a move of people setting up operations in Thailand is happening,” Douglas said.
He said the victims were children from Thailand and neighbouring countries.
“When things operate in the shadows like that it’s really hidden ... but this should be an issue of concern,” he said.
A spokesman for the Thai government was not able to comment on the UNODC findings.
The UN children’s agency said in a 2016 report poor families in the Philippines were pushing their children into performing live sex online for paedophiles around the globe, calling it a form of “child slavery”. — Reuters