The new law enables the use of a decoy adolescent, with adult police detectives posing as minors. The police tested this method before to try and trace people that groom or recruit minors online for prostitution. But the judge ruled that approaching a virtual minor for sex by an adult is, contrary to approaching a real person, not a criminal offence under the law. That will change now. Terre des Hommes has lobbied for this legislative change for a long time. Terre des Hommes has used decoy adolescents for several years now. We do that in the programmes Sweetie and WATCH Nederland.
Sweetie is a virtual 10-year-old Filipino girl who is present in dark online chatrooms that are frequented by men looking for webcam sex with minors. Thousands of men offered money for sex with Sweetie. This resulted in sentences in countries such as England, Australia and Poland. But not in The Netherlands, as the law did not provide for criminalisation of enticing a virtual minor to sex.
WATCH Nederland uses decoy profiles and decoy adverts to expose grooming pimps and scare off their potential clients with the aim of destroying the trade in minors for sex. Up to now, clients that still wanted to pursue a sex date after being warned that the prostitute in the advert actually was a minor only received a warning. Also Sweetie's webcam sex clients received such a warning. But now it will be possible to bring this type of clients to justice, as well as the pimps that try to groom a decoy adolescent.
Terre des Hommes hopes to be able to take action in an even more effective way against the trade in minors for sex.
'An enormous gain'
Carel Kok, CEO of Terre des Hommes: "The online trade in minors for sex has skyrocketed during the last years. For a successful intervention, we know that you have to go online yourself to rob clients and providers of their anonymity and interfere with the trade this way. With the Dutch law changed, apart from issuing warnings, we can also involve police and the judiciary now. That is an enormous gain.”