Cybersex trafficking

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Cybersex trafficking, or live streaming sexual abuse [1] [2] [3] is a cybercrime involving sex trafficking and the live streaming of coerced [4] [5] sexual acts and or rape on webcam. [6] [7] [8]


Cybersex trafficking is distinct from other sex crimes. [6] Victims are transported by traffickers to 'cybersex dens', [9] [10] [11] which are locations with webcams [12] [7] [13] and internet-connected devices with live streaming software. There, victims are forced to perform sexual acts [5] on themselves or other people [14] in sexual slavery [5] [15] or raped by the traffickers or assisting assaulters in live videos. Victims are frequently ordered to watch the paying live distant consumers or purchasers on shared screens and follow their commands. [8] [16] [17] It is often a commercialized, [18] cyber form of forced prostitution. [5] [19] Women, [20] [21] [22] children, and people in poverty are particularly vulnerable [8] [13] [23] to coerced internet sex. The computer-mediated communication images produced during the crime are a type of rape pornography [24] [25] or child pornography [26] [27] [28] that is filmed and broadcast in real time and can be recorded. [29]

There is no data about the magnitude of cybersex trafficking in the world. [30] [31] [32] The technology to detect all incidents of the live streaming crime has not been developed yet. [33] Millions of reports of cybersex trafficking are sent to authorities annually. [34] It is a billion-dollar, illicit industry. [27] that was brought on with the Digital Age [7] [23] and is connected to globalization. It has surged from the world-wide expansion of telecommunications and global proliferation of the internet [8] and smartphones, [35] [36] [37] particularly in developing countries. It has also been facilitated by the use of software, encrypted communication systems, [38] and network technologies [39] that are constantly evolving, [18] as well as the growth of international online payment systems with wire transfer services [35] [31] [40] and cryptocurrencies that hide the transactor's identities. [41] [25] [42]

The transnational nature and global scale of cybersex trafficking necessitate a united response by the nations, corporations, and organizations of the world to reduce incidents of the crime; [14] protect, rescue, and rehabilitate victims; and arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. Some governments have initiated advocacy and media campaigns that focus on awareness of the crime. They have also implemented training seminars held to teach law enforcement, prosecutors, and other authorities, as well as NGO workers, to combat the crime and provide trauma-informed aftercare service. [43] New legislation combating cybersex trafficking is needed in the twenty-first century. [44] [37]


Cyber-, as a combining form, is defined as 'connected with electronic communication networks, especially the internet.' [45] Sex trafficking is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery. [46] Victims of cybersex trafficking are trafficked or transported to 'cybersex dens,' which are rooms or locations with a webcam. [12] The cybercrime also involves the transporting or streaming of images of the victims' bodies and sexual assaults in real time through a computer with a webcam to other computers connected to the internet. [6] [4] [8] It thus occurs partly in the physical or real world, as the sexual assault is real, [47] and partly in cyberspace. [48]


Victims, predominantly women [49] [50] [16] and children, [20] are abducted, [5] threatened, or deceived. [8] [16] Others are drugged. [51] They are held captive and locked up [16] in rooms with covered or no windows and a webcam. [8] They experience physical and psychological trauma. [8] [27] [43] Gang rape has occurred on webcam. [15] [52] Some are coerced into incest. [30] Victims have been denied food, [15] deprived of sleep, [16] and been forced to perform when sick. [4] They have contracted diseases, including tuberculosis, while in captivity. [4] A number are assaulted [4] [16] or tortured. [28] [53]

Victims can be exploited in any location where the cybersex traffickers have a computer, tablet, or phone with internet connection. [7] These locations, commonly referred to as ‘cybersex dens,’ [9] [10] [11] can be in homes, hotels, offices, internet cafes, and other businesses, making them extremely difficult or impossible for law enforcement to identify. [8] The number of cybersex trafficking victims is unknown. [30] [31] Some victims are simultaneously forced into prostitution in a brothel or other location. [54]

Rescues involving live streaming commercial sexual exploitation of children by parents often require a separation of the minors from the families and new lives for them in a shelter. [43]

Some victims are not physically transported and held captive, but rather victims of online sextortion. They are threatened, [55] webcam blackmailed, [56] or bullied to film themselves committing online sexual acts. [25] [57] Victims have been coerced to self-penetrate, in what has been called 'rape at a distance.' [56] Others are deceived, including by phony romantic partners who are really rape or child pornography disturbers, to film themselves masturbating. [58] The videos are live streamed to purchasers or recorded for later sale. [29]

Those marginalized through poverty, conflict, social exclusion, discrimination, or other social disadvantages are at an increased risk of being victimized. [39] The cybersex trafficking and or non-consensual dissemination of sexual content involving women and girls, often involving threats, have been referred to as “digital gender violence" or 'online gender-based violence.' [59]

Victims, despite being coerced, continue to be criminalized and prosecuted in certain jurisdictions. [39]


Traffickers transport victims to locations with webcams and live streaming software. They or assisting assaulters then commit and film sex crimes to produce real time rape pornography or child pornography materials that may or may not be recorded. The online audience or consumers, who are often from another country, may issue commands to the victims or rapers and pay for the services. Male and female [40] [60] [61] perpetrators, operating behind a virtual barrier and often with anonymity, come from countries throughout the world [31] [35] [27] and from every social and economic class. Some traffickers and assaulters have been the victims family members, friends, and acquaintances. [8] [13] [27] Traffickers can be part of or aided by international criminal organizations, local gangs, or small crime rings or just be one person. [8] They operate clandestinely and sometimes lack coordinated structures that can be eradicated by authorities. [8] The majority of purchasers or consumers are men. [53] [27] Impunity is a problem. [62] The encrypted nature of modern technology makes it difficult to track perpetrators. [31] They are motivated by greed [26] and or sexual gratification. [28] Traffickers advertise children on the internet to obtain purchasers. [32] Funds acquired by cybersex traffickers can be laundered. [38]

Overseas predators seek out and pay for live streaming or made-to-order services [35] that sexually exploit children. [7] [13] [30] They engage in threat to gain the trust of local traffickers, often the victims' parents or neighbors, before the abuse takes place. [43]

Internet platforms

Cybersex trafficking is a cybercrime carried out partly by means of computers and the internet. Traffickers transport victims to 'cybersex dens' and use webcams to stream sexual assaults in real time through a computer to the internet for live distant purchasers across the world. Internet map 1024.jpg
Cybersex trafficking is a cybercrime carried out partly by means of computers and the internet. Traffickers transport victims to 'cybersex dens' and use webcams to stream sexual assaults in real time through a computer to the internet for live distant purchasers across the world.

Cybersex trafficking is partly an internet-based crime. [15] Perpetrators use social media networks, [40] videoconferences, dating pages, online chat rooms, mobile apps, [47] dark web sites, [42] [35] and other pages and domains. [63] They also use Telegram (software) [25] and other cloud-based instant messaging [56] and voice over IP services, as well as peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms, virtual private networks (VPN), [39] , and Tor protocols and software, among other applications, to carry out activities anonymously.

Consumers have made payments to traffickers, who are sometimes the victim's family members, using Western Union, PayPal, and other electronic payment systems. [64]

Dark web

Cybersex trafficking occurs commonly on some dark websites, [42] where users are provided sophisticated technical cover against identification. [35]

Social media

Perpetrators utilize Facebook [28] [38] [56] and other social media technologies. [35] [40]


Cybersex trafficking occurs on Skype [65] [36] [35] and other videoconferencing applications. [66] [31] Pedophiles direct child sex abuse using its live streaming services. [65] [35] [28]

Activities by region

Australia and Oceania

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigates cybersex trafficking crimes domestically and in the Asia-Pacific region. [37] [65] [31]

East Asia

Cybersex trafficking occurred in the 2018–2020 Nth room case in South Korea. [67] [25]

North Korean women and girls have been subjected to penetrative vaginal and anal rape, groping, and forced masturbation in 'online rape dens' in China. [4] [15] [68]


The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) investigates and spread awareness about live streaming sexual abuse. [42] Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) is especially equipped to combat the cybercrime. [18]

The United Kingdom's National Crime Agency (NCA) investigates cybersex trafficking crimes domestically and abroad. [37] [35] [31]

North America

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) [37] [26] and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the investigative arm of the United States Department of Homeland Security, carry out anti-cybersex trafficking operations. [60] The United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP) partners with agencies and organization overseas to rescue cybersex trafficked victims. [69]

Southeast Asia

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) identified the Philippines as the global center of cybersex trafficking. [9] The Office of Cybercrime within the Philippines Department of Justice receives hundreds of thousands of tips of videos and images of sexually exploited Filipino children on the internet. [9] The Philippine National Police, along with its Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC), Philippine Internet Crimes Against Child Center (PICACC), [31] Philippine InterAgency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT, Department of Justice (Philippines), and Department of Social Welfare and Development [69] fight cybersex trafficking in the country. [11] [60] Rancho ni Cristo in Cebu is a shelter devoted exclusively to rehabilitating children of live streaming sexual abuse. [43] Children in the shelter are provided food, medical care, counselling, mentoring and life skills training.

The Royal Thai Police's Internet Crimes Against Children (TICAC) task force combats cybersex trafficking in the nation. [58]

Combating the crime

Authorities, skilled in online forensics, cryptography, and other areas, [31] use data analysis and information sharing to fight cybersex trafficking. [65] Deep learning, algorithms, and facial recognition are also hoped to combat the cybercrime. [38] Flagging or panic buttons on certain videoconferencing software enable users to report suspicious people or acts of live streaming sexual abuse. [29] Investigations are sometimes hindered by privacy laws that make it difficult to monitor and arrest perpetrators. [35] Conviction rates of perpetrators are low. [14]

The International Criminal Police Organisation (ICPO-INTERPOL) collects evidence of live streaming sexual abuse and other sex crimes. [39] The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) comprises law enforcement agencies across the world who combat the cybercrime. [18] The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) funds training for police to identify and address the cybercrime. [14]

Multinational technology companies, such as Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, collaborate, develop digital tools, and assist law enforcement in combating it. [38]


The Ministry of Education Malaysia introduced cybersex trafficking awareness in secondary school syllabuses. [70]

Relation to other sex crimes

Cybersex trafficking is distinct from other sex crimes in that it involves the trafficking of the victim and then the simultaneous use of live streaming software and webcams, including those on smartphones and tablet computers. Webcam grayscale.jpg
Cybersex trafficking is distinct from other sex crimes in that it involves the trafficking of the victim and then the simultaneous use of live streaming software and webcams, including those on smartphones and tablet computers.

Cybersex trafficking shares similar characteristics or overlaps with other sex crimes. That said, according to attorney Joshua T. Carback, it is 'a unique development in the history of sexual violence...' [6] and 'distinct in several respects from traditional conceptions of online child pornography and human trafficking...' [6] The main particularization is that involves victims being trafficked or transported and then raped or abused in live webcam sex shows. [6] [71] [40] The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime identified the cybercrime involving trafficked victims on webcam sex shows as an emerging problem. [72] The illegal live streaming shows occur in 'cybersex dens,' which are rooms equipped with webcams. [12] The cybercrime has sometimes been informally called 'webcam rape'. [73] [74]

Non-governmental organizations

The International Justice Mission is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations that carries out anti-cybersex trafficking initiatives. [23] [13] [8] End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) [8] [42] and the Peace and Integrity of Creation-Integrated Development Center Inc., a non-profit organization in the Philippine, support law enforcement operations against cybersex trafficking. [69]

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in the United States assists authorities in cybersex trafficking cases. [75] It provides CyberTipline reports to law enforcement agencies. [62]

Terre des hommes is an international non-profit that combats the live streaming sexual abuse of children. [35] [27]

The Korea Future Initiative is a London-based organization that obtains evidence and publicizes violations of human rights, including the cybersex trafficking of North Korean women and girls in China. [50]

Related Research Articles

Cybersex, also called computer sex, Internet sex, netsex and, colloquially, cyber or cybering, is a virtual sex encounter in which two or more people connected remotely via computer network send each other sexually explicit messages describing a sexual experience. Cybersex is a sub-type of technology-mediated sexual interactions. In one form, this fantasy sex is accomplished by the participants describing their actions and responding to their chat partners in a mostly written form designed to stimulate their own sexual feelings and fantasies. Cybersex often includes real life masturbation. Environments in which cybersex takes place are not necessarily exclusively devoted to that subject, and participants in any Internet chat may suddenly receive a message of invitation. The quality of a cybersex encounter typically depends upon the participants' abilities to evoke a vivid, visceral mental picture in the minds of their partners. Imagination and suspension of disbelief are also critically important. Cybersex can occur either within the context of existing or intimate relationships, e.g. among lovers who are geographically separated, or among individuals who have no prior knowledge of one another and meet in virtual spaces or cyberspaces and may even remain anonymous to one another. In some contexts cybersex is enhanced by the use of a webcam to transmit real-time video of the partners. Non-consensual cybersex occurs in cybersex trafficking crimes.

Child sex tourism (CST) is tourism for the purpose of engaging in the prostitution of children, which is commercially facilitated child sexual abuse. The definition of child in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is "every human being below the age of 18 years". Child sex tourism results in both mental and physical consequences for the exploited children, which may include sexually transmitted infections, "drug addiction, pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and possibly death", according to the State Department of the United States. Child sex tourism, part of the multibillion-dollar global sex tourism industry, is a form of child prostitution within the wider issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children. Child sex tourism victimizes approximately 2 million children around the world. The children who perform as prostitutes in the child sex tourism trade often have been lured or abducted into sexual slavery.

Cybercrime, or computer-oriented crime, is a crime that involves a computer and a network. The computer may have been used in the commission of a crime, or it may be the target. Cybercrime may threaten a person, company or a nation's security and financial health.

Rape pornography is a subgenre of pornography involving the description or depiction of rape. It can show simulated or real rape. It is not the same as the depiction of rape in non-pornographic media. Simulated scenes of rape and other forms of sexual violence have appeared in mainstream cinema, including rape and revenge films, almost since its advent.

Child grooming is befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, and sometimes the family, to lower the child's inhibitions with the objective of sexual abuse. Child grooming is also regularly used to lure minors into various illicit businesses such as child trafficking, child prostitution, cybersex trafficking, or the production of child pornography.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children

Commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is a commercial transaction that involves the sexual exploitation of a child, such as the prostitution of children, child pornography, including live streaming sexual abuse, and the sale and trafficking of children. CSEC may involve coercion and violence against children, economic exploitation, forced labour, contemporary slavery

Sex trafficking Trade of sexual slaves

Sex trafficking is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery, which is considered a form of modern slavery. A victim is forced, in one of a variety of ways, into a situation of dependency on their trafficker(s) and then used by the trafficker(s) to perform sexual services to customers. Sex trafficking crimes can involve acquisition, transportation and exploitation; this includes child sex tourism (CST), domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) or other kinds of commercial sexual exploitation of children, and prostitution.

Human trafficking in the Philippines

Human trafficking and the prostitution of children is a significant issue in the Philippines, often controlled by organized crime syndicates. Human trafficking is a crime against humanity.

Child pornography is pornography that exploits children for sexual stimulation. It may be produced with the direct involvement or sexual assault of a child or it may be simulated child pornography. Abuse of the child occurs during the sexual acts or lascivious exhibitions of genitals or pubic areas which are recorded in the production of child pornography. Child pornography may use a variety of mediums, including writings, magazines, photos, sculpture, drawing, cartoon, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video, and video games. Child pornography may be created for profit or other reasons.

The live streaming of crimes is a phenomenon in which people live stream criminal acts. Due to the fact publishing to social media is done with the intent of others viewing the published materials, it is often impossible to protect the privacy of the victims or people involved.

Sex trafficking in China is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and slavery that occurs in the People's Republic of China. China, the world's most populous country, has one of the highest rates of human trafficking, including sex trafficking, in the world. It is a country of origin, destination, and transit for sexually trafficked persons.

Sexual slavery in China

Sexual slavery in China is sexual exploitation and slavery that occurs in the People's Republic of China.

Sex trafficking in Vietnam is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and slavery that occurs in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Vietnam is a source and, to a lesser extent, destination country for sexually trafficked persons.

Sex trafficking in Cambodia

Sex trafficking in Cambodia is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and slavery that occurs in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Cambodia is a country of origin, destination and transit for sex trafficked persons.

Sex trafficking in the Philippines is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and slavery that occurs in the Republic of the Philippines. The Philippines is a country of origin and, to a lesser extent, a destination and transit for sexually trafficked persons.

Sex trafficking in Hong Kong

Sex trafficking in Hong Kong is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and slavery that occurs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Hong Kong is a city of origin, destination, and transit for sexually trafficked persons.

Sex trafficking in Macau

Sex trafficking in Macau is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and slavery that occurs in the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Macau is predominantly a destination country for sexually trafficked persons.

Sex trafficking in Japan is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and slavery that occurs in the country. Japan is a country of origin, destination, and transit for sexually trafficked persons.

Sex trafficking in South Korea

Sex trafficking in South Korea is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and slavery that occurs in the Republic of Korea. South Korea is a country of origin, destination, and transit for sexually trafficked persons.

Sex trafficking in Mongolia

Sex trafficking in Mongolia is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and slavery that occurs in the country. Mongolia is a source, transit and destination country for sexually trafficked persons.


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Further reading