New Delhi: An alarming rise in the demand for child pornography material (also referred to as 'Child Sexual Abuse Material') has been seen ever since the Covid-19 induced lockdown was enforced, the India Child Protection Fund (ICPF) claimed on Monday.
According to the ICPF, the online data monitoring websites are showing an increase in demand for searches like 'child porn', 'sexy child' and 'teen sex videos'. Data from Pornhub, the world's largest pornography website in the world, also reveals that traffic from India has increased by 95 per cent between March 24 and March 26 2020, as compared to their average traffic, pre-coronavirus, the ICPF claimed.
In its report the ICPF said that New Delhi was amongst the cities where there is a "high demand" for child pornographic material, thereby posing grave risks to its children during the Covid-19 induced lockdown. The ICPF has released a report titled 'Child Sexual Abuse Material in India', a research of child pornography demand in 100 cities in India like New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Indore. The overall demand for child pornography was an average of 5 million per month in 100 cities on the public web during December 2019, which has now spiked.
The report reveals up to a 200 per cent increase in demand for violent content which shows children "choking", "bleeding" and 'tortured". "Metro cities like New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai, besides many Tier II and capital cities, which are seeing a sharp increase in coronavirus cases, have been red-flagged by the December study as hotspots for child pornography," the ICPF said. "ICPF has warned that this indicates millions of paedophiles, child rapists and child pornography addicts have migrated online, making the Internet extremely unsafe for children. Without stringent action, this could result in a drastic rise in sexual crimes against children," it added.
The report cites Europol, United Nations, ECPAT reports which say that children are now more prone to online grooming and sexual coercion, and also refers to recent news of the Childline India Helpline reporting more than 92,000 SOS calls asking for protection from abuse and violence in 11 days of the lockdown.
"This presents a chilling reality of the extreme threat faced by India's children during this period of lockdown. Demand for child sexual abuse material indicates children are more vulnerable to sexual predators," ICPF said.
The organisation has requested the authorities to further step up online vigil in these cities for potential exploiters. Also the Rajya Sabha Committee on the issue, instituted by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, has recommended stringent laws for Internet service providers like Jio and Airtel, and platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to hold them accountable for child abuse enabled by these companies.
The ICPF reiterated the urgent need to implement these recommendations. "This is a blatant violation of the directions of the Honourable Supreme Court, and a violation of national policy. Pornographic websites are playing hide-and-seek with Indian law and judiciary by simply changing their website URLs," Nivedita Ahuja, spokesperson for the ICPF said.
"The Government of India must urgently crackdown on child pornography and also initiate a global dialogue for an international convention against child sexual abuse material," she added.
The India Child Protection Fund (ICPF) is one of the largest child protection organisations in South Asia, working to end child trafficking and child rape. It seeks to achieve its mission by supporting organisations with strategic funding and resources across South Asia.