Maarko* envisioned being Superman so that he could protect his sister from the abusers

Today, Maarko loves to dance. Eight years ago, his life looked drastically different.

IJM first saw 7-year-old Maarko when his photo was uncovered by investigators on a computer located halfway around the world. While searching through evidence seized during the arrest of a 73-year-old man, they found multiple images of Maarko amongst a total of 4000.

Maarko had a little sister, Gabi*, who was 2 years old. They were not allowed to have contact and play with the other children in the neighbourhood.

Instead, they were forced to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam.

Home was not safe and Maarko envisioned being Superman so that he could protect his sister from the abusers. The abusers on the webcam who were demanding and paying for their sexual abuse.

These abusers were, in fact, western paedophiles, purchasing the abuse for their own sexual gratification. All for as little as $20AUD.

Finally, on a rainy morning, six months after finding the abuse images, IJM and local law enforcement rescued Maarko and his sister, along with others. They entered three homes simultaneously, making arrests, collecting evidence and removing the children identified from those original grainy images found on the other side of the world. Maarko was told that he was now safe.

IJM provided aftercare for Maarko and the other children. Today, Maarko is 15 years old and is flourishing in his new life, excelling in his schooling, participating in dance and active in a number of other extra-curricular activities.

The truth is that what happened to Maarko – and continues to happen to thousands of children – isn’t a problem ‘on the other side of the world’.

In fact, Australia is among the major offending countries.

This just brings slavery right onto our shores. It is Australian perpetrators committing the crime of cybersex trafficking. They don’t even have to leave the comfort of their homes to be able to exploit children like Maarko.

Tragically, a study released by the University of NSW and Jesuit Social Services found 1 in 6 Australian men report sexual feelings towards children, and approximately one third of this group report sexually offending against children.

The investigation process of the online sexual exploitation of children is complex and oftentimes difficult. By purchasing this Gift of Freedom, you are supporting skilled investigators in their work to stop perpetrators in their tracks.

A Day of Investigations | $150

Skilled investigators plan rescue operations to free enslaved children and collect evidence to convict criminals and protect survivors.

*Pseudonym used to protect survivor’s identity.

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