Their latest holiday destination

Tim McGirk tells a horror story from India, the country now favoured by sex tourists

They called him "Father Freddy", although whether he is really a priest remains in dispute. Freddy Peat, 71, is an Anglo-German who acted as a social worker with the Catholic church in the Indian beach resort of Goa.

Father Freddy was recently sentenced to life imprisonment in India for sodomy, procuring children for prostitution and selling obscene photographs of minors being sexually assaulted. He was linked to an "orphanage" where more than 150 boys and girls were sadistically abused and tortured, mostly by foreigners.

The case highlights a change in patterns of paedophile sex tourism, a phenomenon causing increasing concern both in the West and in Asia. India is rapidly replacing Thailand and the Philippines as the most popular paedophile sex destination and the organised abuse of Indian children is soaring.

Stringent new laws, along with the spread of Aids, are discouraging sex tourists away from Thailand and the Philippines. While India has many laws protecting minors, they are rarely enforced.

Activists claim that the number of child prostitutes in India has risen from an estimated 50,000 in 1991 to more than 250,000 today. Many of them were kidnapped from poor families and are locked in brothels in Bombay and Calcutta, while others are lured into the sex trade in Goa, Kovallam beach in Kerala state and Orissa's beach of Puri.

In Britain, campaigners want new laws passed so that paedophiles can be prosecuted for sex crimes committed abroad. Sweden, Germany and Canada have recently brought in similar legislation. Already a Bill has passed the Commons which will penalise organisers of paedophile "sex tours" abroad. But with so many desperate Asian children living in poverty, they will continue to be easy prey for paedophiles, activists say.

The Father Freddy story shows just what horrors this implies. A gaunt and white-bearded Goa resident, Peat was arrested after police raided his flat near Margao and found 2,305 obscene photographs. Sheila Barse, a Bombay child-rights activist, said many are seared in her memory.

The worst, she said, was of a two-and-a-half-year-old girl held by her hands and legs, "like a hammock". Ms Barse explained: "Another partially visible man holds her legs while his huge organ stabs and twists into her. The baby's mouth is stretched in an explosive expression of unbearable pain and shock. Her face is rumpled and you can tell she's screaming. The effect on me of that photo is traumatic enough, but think of what it was like for her - the baby."

Ms Barse and police believe that Peat may have been selling the hard- core photographs through paedophile networks abroad. "Along the beaches in Goa you find an endless stream of sexual prowlers, but Peat was different. He was part of an organised ring," she said.

Interpol is investigating links between Peat's orphanages and several paedophile groups identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US, such as the Paedophile Information Network Exchange in London, the Paedo Alert Network (Pan) in Holland, the Lewis Carroll Collectors' Guild, the Childhood Sensuality Circle and the North American Man-Boy Lovers' Association.

In raids on Mr Peat's flat, police also found syringes, pain-killers and anti-spasmodic drugs which they believe were injected into the young boys in the attempts to give them erections. Another photograph from Mr Peat's collection shows a six-year-old boy blindfolded and strapped to the wall. Drugs are being pumped into his testes with a rubber tube attached to a needle.

Interpol is seeking two British men, Raymond Varley and AP Rebello, for questioning in connection with the Peat case. Both are thought to have left India. A third Westerner, Owen McBride, said to be either a Briton or a New Zealander, is also being sought.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower