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Belgium Detectives Shut Down Massive Child Porn Ring with Over 9 Million Images

By February 28, 2020 No Comments
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Belgium may be known for many things, ranging from its chocolate to its beautiful cities. Yet, in recent months it has made headlines for, unfortunately, something much more serious than the calories in its waffles.

Recently, leaders in the country have been dealing with adopting legislation regarding revenge porn, and in a case that is still being decided upon in the courts, it has seen the largest crime related to child pornography in the country’s history.

What’s the story?

January 24th of this year, Samuel Kinge and four other suspects appeared in court in Dendermonde, Belgium, for accusations of distributing over nine million child porn images and other child pornography-related charges.

Related: Apple Fights Child Porn By Scanning Users’ Uploaded iCloud Photos

The five-man pedophilic ring consisting of three Belgians, one Dutch, and one Englishman is reported to have made and distributed child pornography from thousands of victims—including members of their own family, but also from children around the world. They even extorted sexual content from minors in India in return for food or money.

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The group, all men in their late twenties to early forties, would routinely gather in public places like zoos and parks and traffic their own children. One of the men, Niels M., would bring his own and state that, “whoever [wanted] to play with…children will have to pay.”

Heidi De Pauw, CEO of Child Focus, a major Belgian child abuse protection organization, as well as the civil party representing many unidentified victims in the case said that, “I have been in this sector for almost 25 years and thought I had seen everything.”

A lawyer for the organization also stated that the men’s actions included creating a manual called “How do I abuse children in the most horrible way possible.”

The men, who all confessed to the crimes after being arrested, were initially discovered after police conducted a raid into one of the abuser’s houses after catching him photographing children. The raid yielded thousands of images and videos that they had accumulated for 13 years, from 2004-2017, and which implicated the involvement of the other four men.

Related: Tech Companies Reported Over 45 Million Child Porn Images & Videos On Their Platforms In 2018

The trial dealing with these unthinkable actions continues, with some of the men breaking down, claiming they knew they shouldn’t have done what they did, and apologizing for the pain caused to the families involved, evening offering to be “chemically castrated.”

Niels stated that he has been abused himself, but claimed he had not touched his own family.

How do the facts compare?

The case of these men is horrific, and exceptionally violent and predatory. But how does it fit into what we know about other crimes involving child sexual abuse imagery?

Thorn reports that the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reviews over 25 million images and videos of child pornography every year.

Related: Understanding How Child Porn Is Used To Groom Abuse Victims

It is a growing underground trade, with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2016 stating the “expansion of the Internet” was responsible for an “explosion in the market for child pornography.” The next year, the DOJ reported that the number of suspects referred for child pornography production charges had increased 195% from 2004-2013, while those referred for the possession, receipt, or distribution had increased by 28% in the same period.

While this Belgian case may be unique in the number of images it produced and distributed, it is not uncommon that abused children are exploited by someone they otherwise trust.

Related: This Organization’s Plan To Erase Child Porn From The Internet Might Actually Work

NCMEC reported in 2013 that 25% of children are abused by a family friend or neighbor, and 18%, almost one in every five, by a family member or guardian. While child pornography is made of anyone considered a minor, that is, anyone from age 0-18, the numbers often show that the victims are generally younger.

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As an Attorney General said, the only decrease they’ve seen in this issue is tragically, “the age of victims.” In fact, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection found that of the videos and images their team reviewed, almost 80% of children were under 12 years old. Of those, almost 65% were under the age of 8.

The issue of child pornography is complex, and targets some of the most vulnerable in our society. There is an increasing need to respond to the increasing rates of this crime. The Belgian case is shocking and heartbreaking, yet it shows the gravity and scope of this problem.

Click here to learn about how adult mainstream porn and child exploitation are connected.

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