Special Correspondent

Increasing Internet and mobile phone penetration blamed

Newer forms of abuse riding on technology are emerging every day

Forcing children to view images of sexual abuse is a common ploy adopted by abusers

CHENNAI: Better inter-departmental and international cooperation is required to keep travelling sex offenders from coming into contact with children, Vidya Reddy of Tulir CPHCSA, said.

Addressing mediapersons at the Press Information Bureau on the subject, ‘Technology and Travel Facilitating Child Sexual Abuse,’ Ms. Reddy said better intelligence sharing and cooperation across nations were essential to prevent offenders from repeating their crimes. Orientation for law-enforcement agencies would have to be provided. In most cases, NGOs facilitated repeat offences of travelling sex offenders from abroad and it was in the light of this that there must be proper regulation of children’s homes and their funding. An investigation should be conducted into how children come into such homes and how they are being maintained, she said.

On technology-aided child sexual abuse, she said the increasing Internet and mobile phone penetration in the country had led to a number of offline consequences for the young and vulnerable children. Their natural aptitude to use technology had rendered children vulnerable to much abuse online and offline.

Forcing children to view images of sexual abuse was a common ploy adopted by abusers to desensitise them to child sexual abuse, she explained. This itself caused distress and trauma to the child besides providing the young person with a distorted view of reality. There were sites on the Internet where one could custom-order the rape of a child, Ms.Reddy said.

While the IT Act had now provisions to criminalise storing or sharing images of child sexual abuse, the actual implementation was dulled by the fact that cybercrime cells still focussed on white collar crimes. “We need specialised training to recognise child sexual abuse images as such and it cannot be just cybercrime. Also, there must be no delays in bringing such offenders to justice as any delay would be further victimisation of the child.”

A recent national study by the Department of Women and Children indicated that 4.46 per cent of all children interviewed in eight States reported being photographed in nude. Newer forms of abuse riding on technology were emerging every day, including a game that made rape a contest. Awareness about these forms must be disseminated amongst youngsters and a course on online safety should be incorporated into the curriculum, she said.