49 Cases Per Day: Children in Germany Are Victims of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
“Europe has become a hub for the dissemination of abuse images.”
German police recorded a significant increase in child sexual abuse crimes in 2021 compared to the previous year, monitoring more than 39,000 cases last year, according to a report on crime statistics announced by the police in Berlin on May 30, 2022.
The police pointed out that the number of officially documented cases of sexual violence and pornographic crimes in Germany has been increasing for ten years, and it is based on organized networks, some of which have been exposed by the authorities during the past years, and investigations are always continuing in this regard.
Child sexual abuse is a crime of high caliber, but cases of abuse are increasing alarmingly, amid Germany's failure to protect its children from sexual exploitation crimes and the organizations that run it.
Child Sexual Exploitation
49 children who are mercilessly exploited daily are victims of sexual violence in Germany for the year 2021, according to a special report on crime statistics announced by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in late May.
The report indicated that the number of crimes related to publishing, possessing, owning, or producing images of child sexual abuse doubled last year and reached 39,000 crimes, compared to more than 18,700 cases in 2020, an increase of 108.8% over the previous year.
The report showed that 17,704 children under the age of 14 were victims of sexual violence in 2021, compared to more than 16,900 in 2020, and of those, 2,281 were under the age of six.
Cologne’s police chief Falk Schnabel told a press conference that “a 44-year-old German man from Wermelskrunch, near Cologne, had been arrested on suspicion of multiple child abuse cases and possessing huge amounts of assault images, including videos and several photos.”
He continued by saying: “The man was presenting himself as a babysitter on websites and social media.”
Investigators believe that the suspect raped at least 12 children, half of whom were under the age of three.
“I am truly shocked and stunned, I have never before seen cases of this level of brutality, inhumanity, and cruel indifference against children,” Schnabel added.
In addition to child pornography, the security authorities found inside the suspect's computer the names of 72 suspects who shared or possessed photos, videos, and data of sexually abused children, which they had been circulating with the main suspect for several years.
Schnabel explained that these suspects are now under investigation, adding that officials believe the main suspect was in contact with a known child sex network in the city of Munster.
Herbert Reul, Minister of the Interior of North Rhine-Westphalia, said during the press conference: “This indicates again that the perpetrators were exchanging information mainly via the Internet, but they are not alone there, and the police are watching them, and we will arrest them one day.”
Meanwhile, the security services are convinced that the annual figures do not provide a complete image of the true scale of violations, as they only monitor cases that the police are aware of.
On the other hand, associations concerned with children's rights warn that the number of cases that remain hidden behind walls is much higher than is known.
Experts expect that in sexual violence against children, only one in 15 to 20 cases is recognized.
In turn, BKA President Holger Munch at a press conference in Berlin said: “There are large numbers of people reporting suspected cases of child abuse, and these reports have not been taken into account because they have not been completely proven.”
“Serious acts of violence against children and youth, as the most vulnerable members of society, must be criminalized,” he explained.
“Other states are expanding their investigations into such issues, but therapists say the problem is that children who are sexually abused are still too young to understandably speak,” he added.
According to the security official, the best way to combat these crimes is to prosecute the perpetrators and put an end to their behavior.
Julia von Weiler, Executive Director of Innocence in Danger, told Deutsche Welle: “In terms of trauma, these kids are just becoming men or women who are going to need the opportunity to sit down with good psychiatrists if they need them.”
The number of sexual violations against children that the German police are not aware of is still large, according to the authorities, one or two students per class are the number of children who are victims of some form of sexual violence in Germany.
This phenomenon is not unique to Germany. In 2020, more than 65 million child pornographic images and videos were monitored worldwide, and more than 60% of child pornography images that are published are hosted on European servers, according to figures issued by the European Commission.
On her part, the German federal government's abuse commissioner, Kerstin Claus, indicated that Europe has become a center for the dissemination of images of sexual violence.
In this context, Claus said: “We need increased European cooperation and significantly more investment in human and technological resources that assist the authorities authorized to investigate crimes.”
“Every successful investigation is important because it provides an opportunity to stop the abuse of children, or to prevent further child sexual exploitation,” Claus added.
In May 2021, the German police launched a major campaign of raids against consumers and distributors of child pornography and announced that they had searched more than 40 apartments and offices in Berlin, and 49 properties in Bavaria, according to the Guardian.
In a complex security operation and after an international investigation that lasted for several months, the Federal Office of the German Criminal Police announced on May 03, 2021, that one of the largest platforms for disseminating child pornography on the Internet had been dismantled, and that several men had been arrested as suspected operators in Germany.
It is suspected that this platform called Boystown, which was broadcast on the dark web, has more than 400,000 members in many countries, and the photos and videos shared on the platform included recordings of gross sexual abuse of young children.
On October 21, 2020, the German government approved a bill providing for tougher penalties for crimes of sexual violence against children, and classifying the publication of explicit images of children as a felony punishable by at least one year in prison.
Crimes of sexual violence against children are punishable by up to ten years in prison, with criminal proceedings suspended for these crimes, which is not an adequate deterrent by German law for these offenders.
The discussion was raised again about the tightening of penalties for crimes of sexual violence against children, after the incident of sexual abuse that took place in the city of Munster, in which the number of suspects reached 21 people.
In September 2020, the German authorities launched a campaign of raids and searches in different parts of Germany as part of the investigations into the case of a network that promotes child pornography.
Investigations have begun since the authorities searched the home of a man in the Bergisch Gladbach area near Cologne in October 2019 for the repeated sexual assault of his daughter, born in 2017.
It later emerged that this was the tip of the iceberg in the child abuse scandal, which prompted calls in Germany for tougher penalties for child abusers.
Officials spoke of more than 30,000 potential suspects in the wide-ranging investigation, with charges ranging from child sexual abuse to possession of child pornography.
It is noteworthy that, earlier, an uproar arose on social media after a woman appeared in a video in which she says that her four-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted in the kindergarten she attends in the German city of Koblenz.
However, the Public Prosecution said that it had suspended investigations into the case against unknown persons working in the kindergarten due to insufficient evidence.
In turn, a social researcher residing in Germany explained in a statement to Al-Estiklal that “the issue of child sexual abuse is linked to the phenomenon of homosexuality prevalent in the West, and Germans for example, noting that the law negatively affects this issue.
“A small part of the Germans were traveling to Latin America with the aim of having sex with minors and children there, because the law in the countries of that poor continent tolerates such matters,” he pointed out.
The social researcher showed his concern about the large number of sexual abuses against children in Germany, pointing out that “families residing in Germany with children have become more wary of such incidents, especially as their children go to kindergartens, schools, and playplaces, and they may be subject to harassment or rape.”
He indicated that “Children under the age of six may not talk about being subjected to harassment or rape because they may not realize the seriousness of what they are exposed to," noting that “such incidents may cause a psychological trauma for these children immediately or at a later time, and affect their behavior in society due to the psychological and physical impact they leave on them.”
The reasons behind these crimes vary, such as curiosity and pederasty, but the profit by selling and promoting these clips remains an additional reason behind them and encouraging them to commit them, as such acts have become an opportunity to earn money worldwide, according to observers.