‘Runaway Sites’ Latest Exploitation of Young Girls

‘Runaway sites’ latest Net-based exploitation of young girls as men advertise a place to stay for troubled youths in return for sex.

First there were the “enjo kosai” Internet sites where underage girls hook up with adult males in exchange for money. Now there’s a new type of Web site that unites girls running away from home with men offering a place to stay in return for sexual favors.

Called “iede saito,” or runaway sites, and potentially harmful to children, they provide a forum where messages posted by runaway girls asking for a place to stay are answered by men.

Observers say such sites have emerged because the operators and male users want to dodge new laws on “deaikei,” or “encounter sites” (where members of the opposite sex can meet), that ban people under 18 from using them, diminishing the chance they will attract underage girls.

“If you regulate one type of Web site, users will go to another,” said Atsufumi Suzuki, an expert on Internet activity. Runaway sites first emerged about five years ago, he said.

With online encounter sites flourishing as a hotbed for sex with minor girls seeking pocket money, a law was introduced in 2003 that bans under-18 users and, since last year, requires site operators to register with authorities and confirm the identity of their users.

Another law regulating Internet use by minors was passed in June, this one requiring that cell phones used by children under the age of 18 block sexually provocative sites, although their parents can switch this feature off.

These regulations do not apply to runaway sites, which technically carry messages only seeking accommodations.

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Source: The Japan Times

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