A Guide to Identify Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC)

As if a never-ending saga, sexual harassment cases occurred again. This time the perpetrator is a celebrity who’s familiarly called influencers. It is known that while doing live on Instagram, the influencer, who’s also a musician, invited female followers to join the stream and asked them to say and make sexual gestures. That indecent act attracted the attention of a lot of people. The public flocked to criticize the actions of the influencer who had sexually harassed women. The perpetrator’s Instagram, which at that time was in public mode with nearly 2 million followers, allowed people from various age ranges, including minors who also had the potential to become victims of their irresponsible actions. Then, what happened? Is it true that the imbalance of power relations between the perpetrator who is an artist and the victim who is none other than a fan is the main cause? How can victims, especially children, identify and avoid these incidents? Let’s read the following article to find the answer!

Get to Know What’s Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC)

Before discussing further about OSEC, let’s get to know what cyberspace is or what is commonly called cyberspace. Cyberspace or Mayantara is an electronic media in computer networks widely used for one-way and reciprocal online communication purposes (directly connected). Nowadays the digital era, cyberspace has become a very interesting place for people to consume and even produce information in a very wide range. However, so does the impact that can be caused. The positive or negative effect depends on the user. At first glance, there may be nothing wrong with the definition of cyberspace itself. Still, the freedom of accessing various information positioned the children vulnerable to being sexually exploited or what is called Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC).

Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) is a form of crime committed by perpetrators by utilizing communication and information technology and/or the internet to facilitate the sexual abuse of children. Online sexual exploitation of children is a phenomenon that continues to grow following technological developments. However, technological developments do not always positively impact children’s growth and development. Sexual harassment of children, as in the case above, is only one of the many modes of online sexual exploitation of children that can occur due to the use of technology by irresponsible people.

Why Does Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) Could Happen?

Sexual violence is not only in direct/physical violence but can also be in indirect violence, such as what happens in cyberspace. Unlike other forms of sexual violence, children who are victims of online sexual exploitation can become victims millions of times every time a photo, audio, and video is viewed, sent, or received. According to Komnas Perempuan’s 2021 Annual Records (CATAHU), cases of cyber gender-based violence (online/online space) or abbreviated as KBGS, reported directly to Komnas Perempuan, from 241 cases in 2019 increased to 940 cases in 2020. This online sexual exploitation of children absolutely have a negative impact on the physical and psychological conditions of children. In other words, cyberspace is very dangerous for children if there is no handling or firm action against every OSEC case that occurs. The online sexual exploitation of children that often occurs include:

  1. Online Child Sexual Abuse Material
    Online Child Sexual Abuse Material or online child sexual abuse material is an activity where someone accesses, possesses, produces, and/or sends photos, audio, and videos of child sexual abuse. This material has different levels of violence and acts, ranging from positioning children to make a sexual gesture to severe violent content. Child sexual abuse material is also often traded on illegal sites such as DarkNet/Deep Web.

  2. Grooming of Children for Sexual Purposes
    Grooming or child care for sexual purposes is a condition in which the perpetrator, in this context, is often found by adults trying to establish or build a relationship with a child either online or offline to exploit them sexually. Manipulation is one word that needs to be underlined when we talk about child grooming. Perpetrators usually commit crimes like this with the mode of acquaintance accompanied by a certain lure.

  3. Live Streaming Sexual Abuse of Children
    Live streaming of sexual abuse of children is a condition that occurs in online chat rooms or other communication applications with a video broadcast feature to stream child sexual abuse content directly to the ‘viewer.’ The audience itself is divided into two categories. First, passive audience, a condition where the audience only pays a certain amount to watch. The second category is an active audience, a condition where the audience can communicate to victims, perpetrators of sexual abuse, and/or child sexual abuse facilitators and request certain physical actions and/or sexual acts to be carried out by children. The perpetrators of this live streaming of sexual abuse of children could be the parents or close relatives of the children themselves.

  4. Sextortion
    Derived from the words sex (sex) and extortion (extortion), this condition can start from sexting or sending each other sexual messages. After the perpetrator gets the victim’s photo, audio, or video, the perpetrator will blackmail, coerce, and even threaten the victim for sexual exploitation. Usually, the sexual harassment material is produced by themselves by manipulating the victim. What is clear, this activity is only aimed at seeking the perpetrator’s selfish gain.

ECPAT Indonesia conducted an initial mapping of the vulnerability of children from online sexual exploitation. This mapping was carried out by distributing online questionnaires to respondents aged from 6 to 17 years. Based on the questionnaire, it was found that 67% of children experienced an increase in internet use compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, most respondents admitted that they spend more than six hours a day using the internet. According to Deden Ramadani, Research Coordinator for ECPAT Indonesia, out of 1203 respondents, there were 287 forms of bad experiences when surfing the internet during the current pandemic. The forms of bad experiences that victims most often experience include:

  • Writings/text messages sent that are impolite and obscene (112 respondents)
  • Pictures/videos sent that make them uncomfortable (66 respondents)
  • Pictures/videos sent featuring Pornography content (27 respondents)

Now, Let’s Find a Way to Fight OSEC Together!

The increasing number of cases of child sexual exploitation online is a big concern for all of us. Amid the wider reach of the internet and the rapid growth of information technology, the public needs to be more aware of the various forms of harassment that can occur while in cyberspace. This also must be an adult’s concern for creating a safe space for children to access the virtual world without worrying that they may become victims of sexual exploitation. In addition, the public also needs to stop giving negative stigma to victims of sexual violence consciously. Many people think that sexual violence occurs because of the physical or attitude is shown by the victim. In fact, one of the most important factors in the occurrence of sexual violence is the imbalance of power relations between the perpetrators and the victims involved. This is a condition in which the perpetrator feels entitled and feels no guilt for his barbaric act. The motivation and purpose of other perpetrators of sexual violence are revenge, jealousy, anger, or satisfying their sexual desires.

Based on the Law on Electronic Information and Transactions (UU ITE), the rights to protect a person’s electronic data have been guaranteed. There are penalties for someone who harms the owner of the data. In addition, there is also Law (No). 44 of 2008 concerning Pornography which aims to provide legal certainty and protection for citizens from Pornography, especially for children and women. However, in reality, there are no rules that specifically protect the children who are victims of sexual violence exploitation online, so that in many cases, the weak protection of personal data has the potential for online sexual exploitation of children. Therefore, in addition to the government, which must continue to make regulations that favor and protect children firmly, we as parents, brothers, uncles, or closest relatives are also important to take a role to protect children from OSEC together. In addition, it is necessary to increase knowledge for all parties related to child protection so that children can avoid all forms of violence, whether physical, sexual, and psychological.

Writer: Illiyin Keikori
Editor: Rheka Rizqiah Ramadhani
Translator: Hasna Fatina



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