“It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished.”
One of the fastest growing businesses online today is child pornography with estimated annual revenue of more than $3 billion. But the question is who these children are and what circumstances led them to pornography? Before going into the issue, we need to understand what child pornography is. As per Justice Laws Website, Government of Canada, it refers to any audio recording, written material or visual representation, electronic or mechanical, depicted as engaged in explicit sexual activity of a person under the age of eighteen years. It is a form of child sexual exploitation. Possession, production or distribution of child pornography is a crime which has serious repercussions. Ninety four member nations of The International Criminal Police Organization have laws addressing child pornography.
CHILD PORNOGRAPHY- A MATTER OF MORAL PANIC
A child who has lost his/her innocence has lost their childhood. There are numerous stories of children being sexually abused and molested in order to be photographed or videotaped. They are victimized. Michelle K. Collins in his book “Child Pornography: A Closer Look”, argues, there are also cases where excessive watching of child porn has led to child abuse.
Child pornography users fall into one of the four major categories (Beech, Elliott, Birgden & Findlater, 2008):
1. Those who fuel existing or developing sexual interests in children.
2. Contact sexual offenders who use child pornography.
3. Impulsive and curious individuals.
4. Those who deal with child pornography for non-sexual reasons, such as financial gain. (Michael C. Seto, Lesley Reeves & Sandy Jung, ‘Explanations given by child pornography for their crimes’, Journal of Sexual Aggression)
In order to get in touch with children, offenders disguise as teenagers and enter their chat rooms and elicit information. There are also cases of cyber stalking. Some paedophiles even get in contact with the child prostitute brokers.
In 2013, Internet Watch Foundation found 13,182 webpages containing child sexual abuse imagery and these were hosted on 1,660 domains worldwide. The fastest growing demand in commercial websites are the ones depicting the worst type of abuse, including penetrative sexual activity involving children and adults and sadism or penetration by an animal (Internet Watch Foundation, Annual Report, 2008).
In India, under Section 67B of the Information Technology Act, 2008, punishment for publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and with a fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.
University of Cork, in cooperation with London Metropolitan Police, developed the COPINE project to categorize child abuse images for use in both research and law enforcement. It ranges from indicative, nudist, erotica to an assault.
A STEP TOWARDS CONSTRUCTION OF INNOCENCE
- One thing that was noticed was that it is usually the rebellious kid who runs away from home, has sex, breaks the law, makes the wrong choices and finally gets trapped in sex rackets or pornography. The uncontrollable requires legal aid-juvenile justice system that will help the child to make the right choices.
- Another category of children are those who are deprived of their necessities. This category sees the hardships of life at a young age; family problems, poverty, lack of good education and so on. They can be helped by NGOs and welfare institution by giving them better living conditions.
- An interesting lead was initiated by Internet Watch Foundation and ChildLine which teamed up during 2013 to help young people who are distressed as their sexual images are online. This kind on an initiative will encourage children to come out and speak before they are trapped for life.
- It is impossible to control thousands of child porn websites. Everyday a new website is launched. The Germans have decided to take matters into to their own hands, by going right to the source of child pornography on the Internet, the Internet Service Providers (ISP’s). A self-regulation system of promoting hotline system through which public can report about any websites that has illegal content will also be useful.
- As Ernest Hemingway says “All things truly wicked start from innocence”. There is also increasing concerns of child pornography offenders. We need to understand the mindset of the offenders. Pedophiles use it as a means of achieving sexual arousal, where images were used as either a substitute or a stimulus (Quayle & Taylor, 2002). An individual who sexually abuses children seeks out child pornography as part of his/her pattern of sexual gratification.(Marshall, 1989)
- In most parts of the world, education system fails to teach moral values. The offenders were once innocent. The victims weren’t taught to be vigilant. Awareness on child abuse is equally important to eradicate this peril.
Many NGOs have initiated a step forward in the area of child abuse and child rights issues because it not only questions the rights of the child, but also shows bad governance. It is a bad example of media’s influence when the priority should be education. I think it is our duty as policy makers to frame effective and practical policies to protect the most vulnerable from abuse and pornography and bestow them the life they truly deserve.