Most online content on child sexual abuse from India

19.87 lakh reports of such material uploaded from country

April 18, 2020 10:27 pm | Updated 10:28 pm IST - CHENNAI

abuse of children as a symbol photo. child abuse and family violence

abuse of children as a symbol photo. child abuse and family violence

In a global compilation of reports of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) found online, India stands right on top of the list, with 11.7% of the total reports or at 19.87 lakh reports, followed by Pakistan, which contributes 6.8% of all reports (11.5 lakh reports). Bangladesh comes in fourth with 5.5 lakh reports and a share of 3.3%.

Also read: Closure of schools due to COVID-19 may lead to online child sexual abuse, warns IJM

The National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) urges people to report CSAM found online across the world annually, on their online platform CyberTipline.

This year, the Centre received a total of 1.68 crore reports. The material thus reported by the members of the public and electronic service providers, principally comprises still pictures and videos depicting children in a clear sexual angle.

Three of the top four countries were in South Asia, raising concerns among child rights activists about the online safety of children in the region.

Also read: High-risk children vulnerable to sexual abuse to be identified

The NCMEC adds that the reports include geographic indicators related to the upload location of the child sexual abuse material, but country specific numbers may be impacted by proxies and anonymisers.

John Carr, a member of the Executive Board of the UK Council on Child Internet Safety, says, “It has long been suspected that India was very high (as CASM source) but the data wasn’t being published before now so I guess nobody on the inside track will be surprised. Their suspicions have merely been confirmed.”

Also read: Putting an end to child sexual abuse

Mr, Carr added, “I am not going to venture any guesses as to why India is the world’s number 1 but it is astonishing that three out of the four top countries — India, Pakistan and Bangladesh — are all in the same part of the world.”

Vidya Reddy of Tulir Centre for Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, raised concerns about the fact that the reports only account for material that has been uploaded.

Also read: CBI forms unit to check online child abuse cases

“We are not even talking of downloading or browsing. We need to focus on finding out whether this is re-uploading content already circulating on the net, or whether it is new content being uploaded,” Ms Reddy said.

Pointing out that the numbers are consistent with Google searches on sexual content across the world, she said, “We need to look at the South Asian region with great interest and concern, at their interest in using children’s pictures for sexual stimulation.”

Lockdown impact

There is also concern that the lockdowns across the world will lead to an exacerbation of the situation.

Mr. Carr says: “Police and child welfare experts around the world are all expressing great anxieties about the impact of the mass lockdown. Paedophiles who work online are seeking to exploit the situation, looking for bored children. It might be some time before official figures show any increase in arrests or harms to children. That’s unavoidable but also, sadly, inevitable.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has led to an unprecedented rise in screen time,” said Howard Taylor, of Global Partnership to End Violence Executive Director.

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