Two Swedish men and three Filipinos have been sentenced to long jail terms for running a live porn webcam operation that catered to foreigners from a southern Phillipines city.
According to reports, the length of sentences was unprecedented in the
Philippines. A court found the two Swedish nationals, Bo Stefan Sederholm and Emil Andreas Solemo guilty of trafficking charges and sentenced them to life in prison. They were also fined $46,000 each. The three Filipinos were each given 20-year jail
sentences and fined about $23,000 each.
The Swedes were first arrested when police raided a commercial building in the town of Kauswagan, Mindanao, in April 2009.
Justo Yap, National Bureau of Investigation regional director said 18 women,
aged 19 to 24, some of whom were naked and sending live feeds to clients abroad, were found after a raid on the premises. The performers were reportedly paid $350 a month. [Which is a well above average wage in the Philippines].
agencies said providing sexually explicit material over the Internet is a growing industry in the Philippines where the perception is low risk and high returns. All Internet sex is classified as pornography and therefore illegal in the Philippines.
The judge in the case stressed the need to protect Filipino women and said in his ruling, Disrespect for Filipino women and violations of our laws deserve the strongest condemnations from this court. It will not shirk from its duty to impose the
most severe of penalties against anybody, be he a foreign national or a citizen of this country, who tramples upon the dignity of a woman by taking advantage of her vulnerability.
Update: Philippines: where trafficking
means getting the bus to work
13th May 2011. See article from thelocal.se
Two Swedish IT-experts jailed for life in the Philippines for running a cybersex den say they are living a nightmare among hardened criminals and maintain that they have done nothing wrong.
Emil Andreas Solemo and Bo Stefan Sederholm were
convicted of supposed human trafficking after being found running an operation in which 17 naked women in an office building performed in front of cameras for overseas internet clients.
The Philippines government hailed the verdict as a landmark
victory in the battle against human trafficking because the Swedes were the first to be handed life sentences for what has in recent years become a booming cybersex industry.
But both men appear bewildered why they should be jailed for Internet
pornography when prostitution is rampant across the Philippines.
We don't see ourselves as human traffickers at all, Solemo said in an exclusive interview with AFP: The women were not forced to do it. It was nothing like that at all . He said he and Sederholm were IT consultants who had been hired to set up the computer systems at the cybersex shop where the women worked in Cagayan de Oro.
The Swedes also pointed out that the women working in the cybersex operation were all adults - prosecutors never alleged that minors were involved - and said the case against them smacked of hypocrisy. Some say it's (cybersex) demeaning and
horrible, but you can go to any city in the Philippines and see girls who are dancing on poles in skimpy clothes. It's absurd...there are places there that openly sell girls, Solemo said: What we have undertaken here would not have been considered
as trafficking anywhere in the West. In the United States or elsewhere it is not illegal to undress before computer cameras if you are of legal age.
Sederholm said they believed they had become scapegoats to make authorities look good to the
United States, which put the Philippines on a blacklist of countries deemed as not doing enough to combat human trafficking.
Beverly Musli, the head of a local women's rights group that helped prosecutors gather evidence in the case, also said the
Swedes deserved to be in jail. It's still trafficking because the victims were recruited from all over the Philippines and transported to the south, said Musli, who is a lawyer.