Hundreds of children in the Netherlands were sexually exploited during the coronavirus pandemic, AD reports based on figures from the center against child trafficking and human trafficking CKM for 2020. Parents were much more often involved in the sexual abuse, the center found.
Last year 250 children reported that they were being sexually abused. They did so through an online chat platform, where victims can anonymously share their story. The majority of victims were minors, the youngest was 9 years old.
Last year, one or both parents were the perpetrators in 14.5 percent of cases, up from 6.8 percent in 2019. “Now one in seven involves the parents themselves, that is very intense,” CKM spokesperson Shamir Ceuleers said to AD. Strikingly, the perpetrator is almost as often the father as the mother of the victim. In a number of cases, a new partner was also involved in exploiting the child. When parents are involved, the child usually faces long-term abuse, often lasting two or more years.
The sharp increase in parents sexually abusing children may have to do with people being home more due to the coronavirus pandemic and its accompanying lockdowns. “Children who are in a bad situation at home were unable to leave, for example, to the football club or school during lockdown,” Herman Bolhaar, the National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking and Sexual Violence against Children, said to AD.
According to the CKM, the fact that various protective factors, like school, care providers, and general practitioners, disappeared during lockdown also played a role in the increase.
Children also more often fell victim to online sex abuse – usually a perpetrator talking them into sending nudes or performing sexual acts in front of the webcam. This may be connected to coronavirus-related travel restrictions and closed borders forcing child sex tourists and other child sex abusers to stay home and find their victims online.
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