Published: Wednesday September 16, 2009
Some 750,000 sexual predators are constantly prowling the Internet in a bid to gain contact with children, a United Nations report warned on Wednesday.
"The number of sites devoted to child pornography worldwide is growing. The number of predators connected to the Internet at any one time is estimated to be 750,000," said Najat Maala, Special Rapporteur on the child prostitution and child pornography issue.
Unicef also estimates there are more than four million websites featuring minors, including those of children aged under two years.
More than 200 new images are also circulated daily, according to Maala, who pointed out the production and distribution of child pornographic images rakes in between 3 and 20 billion dollars (2.04 and 13.62 billion euros) a year.
"Images of sexually exploited children are not only growing in number but are also increasingly shocking," added Maala, who estimates that between 10,000 and 100,000 minors are victims of the child pornography network.
She noted that the age of sexual consent should not be used as an excuse for child pornographic peddlers -- as it is used in places where this age limit is lower than the definition of who constitutes a minor.
This is because a "child under 18 cannot be considered to be able to consent to sexual exploitation, including child pornography," she added.