The lockdown is bringing out the worst in Indians. Child abuse cases are on the rise and now the latest statistics show that Indians are watching an alarming amount of child pornography.
Even with the countrywide ban on porn, data released recently states that there has been an abrupt rise in searches like “child porn”, “sexy child” and “teen sex videos”, especially since the nation went into a lockdown on March 23. Consumption of child pornography has gone up by 95 per cent, according to a recent report released by India Child Protection Fund, a non-profit that works for children’s rights.
The increase in child porn consumption during the lockdown period is indicative of how “millions of paedophiles, child rapists and child pornography addicts have migrated online, making the Internet extremely unsafe for children,” says Nivedita Ahuja, the chairperson of India Child Protection Fund. The ICPF was set up in January this year by Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s son Bhuvan Ribhu to fund NGOs with resources to help curb the exploitation of children. “Without stringent action, this could result in a drastic rise in sexual crimes against children,” she warns.
What’s even more disturbing is that there has been a demand for content that is more violent. “While all child pornography is violent, 18 per cent individuals exhibited explicit intent for videos where children were choking, bleeding, tortured, in pain or screaming,” said the report.
In a global compilation of reports of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) found online, India shamefully tops the list, followed by Pakistan, while Bangladesh ranks fourth.
While the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) compiles its report based on CSAM found on the web on their online platform CyberTipline annually, it does not account for downloaded or browsed content. “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,” says Vidya Reddy of Tulir Centre for Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. She further points out that the numbers are consistent with Google searches on sexual content across the world, and South Asia’s “interest in using children’s pictures for sexual stimulation” is of great concern.
With the mass lockdown seeing an unprecedented increase in screen time, child welfare authorities fear that this could lead paedophiles to exploit the situation by lurking in children on the internet, especially social platforms.
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