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Rise in online child abuse triggers alarm in Macau

Cases involving children rose by a third last year despite a decrease in the overall crime rate
Macau has seen a more than 30 percent increase in online child abuse cases over last year, says a government official

Macau has seen a more than 30 percent increase in online child abuse cases over last year, says a government official. (Photo: Pixaby)

Published: March 07, 2023 07:51 AM GMT
Updated: March 07, 2023 10:17 AM GMT

Online sexual abuse cases involving minors in Macau increased by more than 30 percent last year while the territory experienced a drop in the overall crime rate, a government official said.

Wong Sio Chak, the secretary for security in the Macau Special Administrative Region said there was an increase in online sexual abuse of minors whereas crime rates overall dropped by about 14 percent, Portuguese newspaper Ponto Final reported on March 6.

“It is important to reinforce sex education and prevention since minors are easily deceived and harmed by malefactors. It is a social issue, it has to get attention from the whole of society, from parents, from schools,” said Wong.

According to government data, a total of 27 sexual abuse cases involving minors were reported in Macau in 2022, an increase of 33 percent in comparison to the 18 cases reported in 2021.

The crime case statistics recorded by the police for the year showed that the total reported crimes in 2022 had decreased to 9,799 cases in comparison to 11,376 cases in 2021.

Government data shows a steady decline in crime rates over four years starting from 2019 when 14,178 cases were recorded.

Wong revealed that the Judiciary Police had dealt with “several cases of dissemination of pornographic videos related to minors through the internet,” since joining Interpol's Child Sexual Exploitation database project in 2020.

The database uses image and video comparison software through which investigators are instantly able to make connections between victims, abusers, and places.

Government data shows a total of 153 cases of violent crime were reported to the police in 2022 in comparison to 255 cases in 2021.

The report said violent crimes such as kidnapping, murder, and aggravated assault “continued to be either non-existent or extremely rare in Macao.”

Wong said many criminals had moved their activities to online platforms “to take advantage of public fears to create various scams related to the pandemic.”

The official stated that there were 92 crimes of extortion by 'nude chat' and 67 cases of people deceived by so-called "false enjo Kosai” or young escorts with the possibility of sexual services.

The government aims to assess the impact of the current situation of the gaming sector, a mainstay of Macau’s economy, in fueling crimes including crimes against children, Wong said.

He added that the police will step up “efforts regarding inspection work and combat activities against cybercrime and continue to carry out crime prevention campaigns among the local community.”

The police will “continue to monitor closely any possible change in local security conditions and any change in the trends of criminal activity while enhancing mechanisms for liaison and exchange of intelligence with their counterparts within the region,” Wong said.

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