Combating Child Obscenity over the Internet

According to Prof. Paulo Pinheiro, “No violence against children is justifiable and all violence against children is preventable”. Child pornography is a menace. Large rate circulation of exploitation of child quite well evidently mean that no child is safe. From the moment of the time when images are placed on the internet and disseminated online, the victimization of the children begins. Images flicker on the computer screen of man raping baby born months ago, Old man sodomizing small boys and girls. These remain for life time. This kind of harassment haunt each and every child who has been through this forever. This often creates psychological damage to the child, including disruptions in sexual development, self-image and building trustful relationships with others.

Generally, in child pornography, two types of children are involved—real children and virtual children. Real children would be children of flesh and blood, while virtual children are computer – simulated images of children. Child pornography is of two types. One consists of pornographic files containing images of abuse (both real and simulated) committed on children including custom-made child pornography where sale is of images of child sexual abuse created to order for the child consumer. The second consists of real time transmission of images of children being sexually abused through technologies like the webcam.

The expansion of the Internet and advanced digital world have created market for child pornography. Child pornography images and videos are readily available virtually over the internet. Child pornography offenders have promoted communications and collaborations with each other which has fostered their relationship over shared sexual interest in children. This is eroding the shame behind their motive and psychologically damaging children.

Methods used by these offenders to evade law is based on the use of anonymous networks like “The Dark Internet”. Many child pornography images are found through private websites on the internet. In fact, many newsgroups are devoted to child pornography, with names such as “alt.pictures.binary.pedofile” or “alt.pictures.erotica. dhildren. The onus is on the civil society to help the state to curb this menace from taking monstrous proportions. Every child has the right to be protected against all types of exploitation. Many nations have taken legal and other measures to prevent trafficking in children, i.e., the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and further to punish offenders and ensure that child victims are rehabilitated and reintegrated in the society.

The population of children below 18 years of age in India is approximately estimated at 440 million. According to a 2007 Study by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, nearly 53% of all Indian children irrespective of class, caste, religion, educational background, income and ethnic origin had disclosed being sexually victimized in at least one way, with the nature of the offensive behavior ranging from sexual touching to rape. However, India has no law prohibiting child pornography per se, even though a prohibition on pornography exists under the Indian Penal Code. An improvement in this situation is the 2008 Information Technology Amendment Act, which seeks to prohibit child pornography in electronic form.

International Legal Instruments helpful for combating child obscenity over internet:-

  1. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted in 1989 which affirms the status of all children as equal holders of human rights and empowered actors in the realization of their rights. It includes explicit rights to protection from all forms of violence and exploitation, including sexual exploitation.
  2. The Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography which came in 2002 requires prohibition of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and obliges nations to criminalize the offenders.
  3. Article 34 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (“UNCRC”) lays down that all signatories shall take appropriate measures to prevent the exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.
  4. The Rio de Janeiro Pact to Prevent and Stop Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents was formulated on November 25-28, 2008 at the World Congress III against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents at Brazil. With regard to Child pornography/child abuse images, the development of voluntary Codes of Conduct and other corporate social responsibility mechanisms was stressed, as well as providing incentives to the private sector for research and development of robust technologies.
  5. In the UK, Section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978 (as amended by the 1994 Act) makes it an offence to take, make, permit to be taken; distribute or show; or possess with a view to their being distributed or shown (by the defendant or others) any indecent photograph or indecent pseudo-photograph of a child. According to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, this prohibition will be extended to encompass “tracings” of photographs.

Indian Legal Instruments helpful for combating child obscenity over internet:-

  1. According to Article 21 of Constitution of India, no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
  2. According to Article 23(1) Traffic in human beings and beggar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.
  3. According to section 8 of The Goa Children’s Act whoever commits any sexual assault shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term that may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine Rs 100000 whereas grave offenders shall be punished for not less than seven years of imprisonment and fine of Rs. 200000.
  4. Section 67B criminalizes all kinds of online child pornography which includes publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in sexually explicit act, creates text or digital images, collects, browses, downloads etc. in electronic form  any obscene or indecent or sexually explicit content depicting children. It even includes whoever cultivates, entices or induces children to online relationship that may offend reasonable adult on computer source.
  5. The POCSO Act 2012 is a comprehensive law to provide for the protection of children from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interests of the child at every stage of the judicial process by incorporating child friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts.

Conclusion

Though it is hard to find the difference between pornography and obscenity as both of them seem to be synonym to each other. This difference is important to legal world to determine the liability. Various international legal instruments have helped raise awareness and prevention looking at the urgency of this cause. The actual fight is against those perpetrators who are constantly seeking ways to leverage new technologies to avoid detection, criminals who spread their illicit work throughout the world and develop their community with similar interests as child pornography.  All violations should carry strict sentences that will be enforced, thereby guaranteeing a true deterrent effect. Mere fines and misdemeanor classifications are not enough. Child pornography is most explicit and disturbing of all. Child pornography completely debar the childhood of the child.  Every country should make stringent laws to combat this heinous crime.

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