Thanks to the virtual girl Sweetie created by Terre des Hommes, more than a thousand men who had webcam sex have been identified worldwide.
Leiden and Tilburg legal experts examined the situation in 18 countries to see whether webcam sex with a virtual girl can actually be punishable by law.
The problem is that the victim is not a real person.
Sweetie is an initiative of Terre des Hommes the Netherlands.
Why has combating online webcam sex become so important?
In most cases, Sweetie was the trigger for a further search of the houses of the suspects and men were arrested on the grounds of possession of child pornography. Using chatbots, many more chat rooms can be monitored and more (potential) offenders can be deterred.
There is no complete overview of the arrests because it is not standard practice for the national police authorities to report back to the researchers.
Prosecutors have to focus on the attempt and intention to have online sex with a juvenile. The first is 'relatively inadequate attempt' (the action is factually impossible).
Schermer likens this to a thief who tries to steal something but the cupboard is bare.
The other term is 'absolutely inadequate attempt' (the action is in legal terms impossible).
Leiden legal expert Ilina Georgieva found that in 13 of the 18 countries attempting to have sex with a virtual, under-age child can be punishable in law because the webcam user assumes that he is chatting with a real child.
The ‘Sweetie’ study shows the size and nature of webcam child sex tourism worldwide.