Are children major victim of online abuse and exploitation ?
by Pallabi Paul:-
Children are the future of the nation ,and for their proper growth, they should be brought up with proper care and affection,under a natural or legal guardian,who can responsible for protection of the person of their child.As per Indian Majority Act ,it defines a child as a person who has not attained or completed 18 years of age,and are are minor .With the rise of use of internet for trade and commerce,it provides a platform to the people to earn income,some of the people misuse the internet and computer for earning by exploiting and exposing the children and youngsters in the internet .The online child sexual abuse and exploitation involves the use of communication te4 as a means to sexually abuse or exploit them Child sexual exploitation involves child sexual abuse or other sexualized acts using children that involves an exchange of some kind e.g. food,drugs etc.
International convention such as Convention on the Rights of the child 1989, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children ,child prostitution and child pornography of 2000 enumerated children rights and clarify the obligation of states to protect children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.Furthermore,regional conventions ,such as the Council of Europe’s Convention of the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and abuse of 2007 seek to prevent children sexual exploitation and abuse and protect victims,prosecute offenders ,and promote national and international cooperation in the identification ,investigation ,prosecution,and prevention of crimes.
Children are the major victim of online abuse and exploitation .The rapid review identified thirteen original studies punished between 2003 and September 2009 that evaluated the frequency of online sexual exploitation of children and youngsters.
Four studies based on the self report of children and yoth5 from the general population found that between 13 to 19% have led an experience of online sexual solicitation in the last year.Two of the studies found that in 5% of the cases ,the experience of online sexual solicitation was so distressful for the children .2% of all the cases of child sexual abuse reported to police services were cases of online initiated sexual solicitation.
Factors that increase the risk of being exposed to online sexual solicitation included gender that is being female,being older than 14 years of age,engaging in high risk behavior online such as sending out personal information to strangers or talking online to strangers about sex ,the presence of other problematic internet experiences for example cyber bullying,high internet use ,Internet access from mobile devices or at computers away from home.There is evidence regarding the co occurrence of mental health problems such as depressive symptoms and other behavioural problems among individuals exposed to experiences of online sexual solicitation.internet influences the lives of children ,
In order to prevent the increasing number of online abuse against children,awareness regarding law governing the online sexual abuse and exploitation should be promoted widely.The Deputy Commissioner ,H .Jayalaxmi ,Crimes against Women and Children wings stated they cross checked the IP address on complaint of sharing sexual and illegal content, and found that the offenders approach the women and children who are the vulnerable online and demand the sexual content.There are newer challenges when they come across checking IP address ,searching illegal sexual content relating to children.
Online child abuse is unique form of child abuse which may occur in various forms like ,virtual,distanced and anonymous nature.The offenders target the children by using internet as an potential tool who may be a stranger or kno5n to child or his parents.Data and society research institute s report states that 72% of the US Internet users have witnessed online harassment while 47% of the users personally experienced harassment in many forms.The cyber child abuse has always negative impact on the overall growth of a child,he or she can’t able to concentrate on studies and many times remain stressed which impacts on the health of the individual,sometimes they fear to share being abused to their near and dear too,and the offenders taking advantage of the situation continuously harass them for getting wrongful gain.Online abuse of children may occur in various form like Online bullying, grooming, sexual abuse ,cyber stalking or cyber harrasment,live streaming of child sexual abuse.
Online Grooming -Online grooming is a form of cyber abuse against children where the offender tries to make a good relationship with the child or described as a practice where an adult befriends with a child either online or in offline mode with an intent to exploit the child or sexually abuse him .In typing cases,grooming proceeds in stages beginning with victim selection .Children participate in various social media platforms and the communication app which the perpetrators can utilize to access the children’s account.The perpetrators target the victim based on many factors, like ease of access,whether the privacy settings in app,websites and platform of the children are used or not.After the victims selection ,the perpetrators communicate with the children and seeks to form friendship with him and can glean personal information from online sources and used to deceive them .They try to win the trust of the children and before committing offence they very cleverly checks or make it sure they are not detected or the childs account is not detected by their parents,sometimes they even try to win the trust of parents too .The end goal of online grooming is manipulating or coercing the victims to take sexually image or video and send it to the offender.Online grooming does not happen through a linear process,it happens through a dynamic process driven by the motivation and capacity of the offenders and offenders ability to control the child who is the victim.Though many countries do not have strict laws punishing one who is promoting or trying to practise online grooming.
Child sexual abuse or exploitation materials -The representation of whatever of child engaged in sexual activity or representing sexual part of the child only for sexual purpose is considered as child sexual abuse which is a serious offence strictly punishable under the provisions of Information Technology Act 2000 which is basically a law relating to cyber security .The child sexual exploitation or abuse material are transmitted by email,chat rooms,whatsapp,instant messaging or other social media is also traded on password protected sites ,bulletin board and forum .The regional law relating to sexual exploitation have separated the child sexual abuse from the child exploitation .As well as under Art 27 of African Charter in the Rights and Welfare of the Child 1990 also deals with the prohibition of the child sexual abuse .
The use of the term child pornography was rejected by various International Organization,agencies ,academics for the purpose because the term minimises the seriousness of the offence and violence against children and it represents and it can place blame on the child whose sexually explicit content was found in the internet.
Live Streaming of Sexual Content -Live Streaming of child sexual abuse is the real time broadcasting of the child sexual abuse to the viewers in remote locations.While live streaming of online sexual content involves transmission across national boarders which is reported by many countries.In case of live streaming of child sexual abuse,the viewers can communicate with the Child and can ask the child to perform different act.In case of Queen Vs Ian Watkin and others 2013, illustrates that live streaming of child sexual abuse doesn’t only occurs for payment but also to gratify live interest or satisfy sexual viewers or in the context of other abusive relationship.
Live Streaming of the sexually children abuse content are not explicitly mentioned under International ,national and regional instruments.
This types of criminal activities however may be criminalized under the sections of the instruments that prohibits the participation of children in child sexual activity.the pornographic performances like live exhibitions aimed at an audience,including by means of Information and communication technologies and of child engaged in real or stimulated sexually explicit conduct or or the sexual organs of the child for primarily sexual purposes are prohibited.Besides several regulations,pedophiles are still there ,who targets the children to exploit them,they never think twi4 before committing serious offences against children either boys or girls.Sometimes they caught the children and exploit them for the purpose of entertaiing them .
Those engaging in live streaming child sexual abuse can be charged with the production of child sexual abuse material or the possession of child sexual abuse material as per the Interegsncy Working Group ,2016.Software can be used to record the live streaming of child sexual abuse or still images can be captured the child sexual abuse during the broadcasting.,the perpetrators used to collect the videos or the images of such content and distributes it to others for the sale.While the copies can be made by the facilitator and viewers of live streaming of child sexual abuse often such copies are not available,making identification of child engaged in such illegal activities.and prosecution of sexual viewers and abusers are difficult.More strict laws are still required to made in order to protect the children and to prevent such activities by punishing the abuser as well as the dustributer and promoter of child sexual abuse.
Online stalking and harrasment –Cyber stalking involves using of computer and information technologies to perpetrate more than one incident like that intended to repeatedly harass ,attack ,threaten ,annoy the people.Large number of cases are reported where the children and teenagers are being stalked by the offenders .As the children are immature and are dependent on someone ,need is required for more attention towards such matter by parents,guarding as well as law enforcement agencies .Perpetrators can engage in cyber stalking by texting,mailing or utilizing other form of electronic communication to communicate obscene vulger,or defamatory comments,or threat to harm their parents or family members from which children usually afraid off and use technologies to monitor their activities survey and follow the victims movements .Perpetrators can also engaged in cyber stalking indirectly by damaging to the victims digital devices,like infecting the devices with malware and viruses steal information and viewers of live streaming of child sexual abuse often such copies are not available,making identification of child engaged in such illegal activities.and prosecution of sexual viewers and abusers are difficult.More strict laws are still required to made in order to protect the children and to prevent such activities by punishing the abuser as well as the dustributer and promoter of child sexual abuse.
By Pallabi Paul
She is a student of Department of Law,Assam University Silchar ,pursuing her B.A.LL.B(Hons) from there which is going to be completed in June ,2020.