The India Child Protection Fund (ICPF) on Monday revealed that millions of paedophiles, child rapists, and child pornography addicts have migrated online, making the Internet even more unsafe for children, thereby posing grave risks to kids during the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to the report by the Child Protection Fund, since the lockdown, online data monitoring websites have shown an increase in demand for searches like “child porn”, “sexy child”, and “teen sex videos”.
“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 200 percent increase in demand for violent content which shows children 'choking', 'bleeding' and 'tortured'”, the report stated.
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.
As per experts, the report suggests that “Indian men are not ‘satisfied’ with generic child pornography and demand violent and exploitative content. Without stringent action, this could result in a drastic rise in sexual crimes against children”.
Recent data from Pornhub, the world’s largest pornography website, also revealed that traffic from India increased by 95 percent between 24 and 26 March 2020, as compared to their average traffic pre-lockdown.
“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. 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”, asserted Nivedita Ahuja, spokesperson for the ICPF.
The parliament’s upper house committee on the issue, instituted by Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, has recommended stringent laws for Internet service providers like Jio and Airtel, as well as platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to hold them accountable for child abuse enabled by these companies. The ICPF reiterates the urgent need to implement these recommendations.
Metro cities like New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Mumbai have been red flagged by the December study as hotspots for child pornography. The organisation has implored authorities to further step up online vigil in these cities for potential exploiters.
The report also mentions that children are now more prone to online grooming and sexual coercion, and highlights that the Childline India Helpline has reported more than 92,000 SOS calls asking for protection from abuse and violence in the 11 days of the lockdown.
The ICPF affirms, “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”.