The child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) has been concerned by the increase of child exploitation and the sharing of pornographic pictures of young girls and women via the internet in Cambodia, following the report of 30 such cases in the first quarter of this year.
APLE executive director Samleang Seila told The Post that internet usage among children and youth has increased, particularly mobile internet. This poses a concern as children and youth are not properly educated about safety in using the technology and could face the risk of child sexual exploitation.
“In the first quarter of this year, we received 30 cases, most of them related to spreading and exploiting obscene pictures on the internet.
“There are also cases in which Telegram groups are created to sell pornographic pictures and videos of both children and adults,” he said.
He said that last year APLE recorded 65 cases, mostly sharing obscene pictures of children on Facebook, but without exploitative intentions. Compared to last year’s figure, he said the number of cases has increased this year, especially via Telegram groups.
Most of the children who experienced sexual abuse were tricked by individuals who used fake identities to communicate with and attract girls to exchange naked pictures or meet in the real world, he said.
“Those naked pictures were then used by perpetrators to threaten and force victims to have sex or to extort money from young girls,” he added.
Recently, a Cambodian teacher was arrested by police following a court order for threatening his student online. The teacher allegedly threatened to post naked pictures of her on social media unless she gave him money. The victim decided to give the teacher a lot of money, Seila said.
“Such a case is of high concern for the safety of children who are using social media or the internet, especially girls,” he said, adding that the investigation is complicated and producing few results.
National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said he had not received all the reports on child exploitation via the internet. He said the Ministry of Interior has the Anti-Cyber Crime Department and Anti-human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department working on the issue.
National Cambodian Council for Children (NCCC) secretary-general Nhep Sopheap could not be reached for comment on March 28.
To raise awareness on the issue, APLE recently produced a video about online sexual exploitation. APLE urged the public to report such cases to them for intervention.