If you met Maarko* today, you would see a joyful, energetic 7-year-old boy who loves superheroes and playing freeze tag with his friends. Yet when the IJM team first met Maarko in the Philippines, his life was drastically different.
A British man paid Maarko’s mother to set up a webcam in the privacy of her home so he could direct live sexual abuse of children over the internet. The demand for shows spread to customers in other countries, including the U.S. and Canada, and Maarko, his 2-year-old sister, and cousins living next door found themselves trapped in a global network of abuse.
Cybersex trafficking is a devastating form of modern slavery made possible by the rapid spread of the internet.
Children even younger than Maarko are forced to perform sex acts in front of a webcam, as directed by a customer sitting on the other side of a computer screen. The criminals feel protected by the anonymity of the internet, but the crime is anything but virtual. It’s a real child being abused in real time.
Thankfully, the British man who organized the cybersex trafficking ring is now behind bars, and Maarko’s mother is awaiting her trial.
IJM social workers continue counselling with Maarko and the other children at the safe shelters where they now live. Maarko is learning and growing in his new life – free to be a child again.
Vote to send rescue and restoration to victims of cybersex trafficking.
- Watch this video to learn more about cybersex trafficking.
- Help end cybersex trafficking by joining the nationwide movement with #NotOnMyScreen. Get your sticker and take the pledge at NotOnMyScreen.ca.