Child Pornography

The POCSO Act, 2019 defines Child Pornography as Any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child which includes a photograph, video, digital or computer-generated image indistinguishable from an actual child. India Child Protection Fund (ICPF) has come out with a report which indicates a sharp rise in demand for online child pornography during the lockdown.

Currently, there is no law banning watching pornography in personal space. After the Supreme Court’s order, the Department of Telecommunication banned several websites containing child pornographic material. As per the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2002, it is punishable to show children any pornographic content.

The Ad-hoc Committee of the Rajya Sabha was instituted recently by the Chairman of the House to examine and report on the issue of child pornography and the prevalence of its horrific consequences. The Committee has also recommended important amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 and the Information Technology Act, 2000 besides initiating changes at technological, institutional, social, educational and state-level initiatives.

  • The effect of pornography is different in children belonging to the lower class compared to children belonging to the high class. A single approach won’t be able to handle the issue effectively.
  • Lack of sex education courses and workshops in the school curriculum.
  • In India, sex is seen as negative (something which should be hidden). There is no healthy family dialogue regarding sex. It leads the child to learn this from outside which led to an addiction to pornography.
  • It’s very difficult for agencies to detect the activities of child pornography and monitor them effectively.
  • Availability of obscene content on regular websites and OTT (over the top) services make it difficult to differentiate between the non-vulgar content and vulgar content.
  • Parents can make a vast and positive difference by talking with their children. Like sexuality education in general, the topic of pornography is not one big talk but rather a series of discussions that easily can arise from the content of songs, music videos, video games, movies and unintended or intended exposure to sexually explicit images.
  • Parents can help their children develop a critical eye when viewing media, so they see the lies, and differentiate that fiction from the joy in loving equitable and respectful relationships.
  • National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal shall be designated as the national portal under-reporting requirements in the POCSO Act in case of electronic material
  • Union Government shall be empowered through its designated authority to block and/or prohibit all websites/intermediaries that carry child sexual abuse material
  • Law enforcement agencies should be permitted to brake end to end encryption to trace distributors of child pornography. Apps that help in monitoring children’s access to pornographic content shall be made mandatory on all devices sold in India. Such Apps or similar solutions to be developed and made freely available to ISP, companies, schools and parents.
  • Ministry of Electronics and IT and Ministry of Home Affairs shall coordinate with Blockchain analysis companies to trace identities of users engaging in cryptocurrency transactions to purchase child pornography online. Online payment portals and credit cards are prohibited from processing payments for any pornographic website.
  • All social media platforms should be mandated with minimum essential technologies to detect Child Sexual Abuse Material besides regular reporting to law enforcement agencies in the country.
  • On-streaming platforms like Netflix and social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook etc. should have a separate adult section where under-aged children could be disallowed.
  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shall mandatorily record and report annually cases of child pornography of all kinds.
  • A national Hotline Number should be created where child sexual abuse, as well as the distribution of child pornographic material, can be reported by concerned citizens.
  • Ministries of Women and Child Development and Information and Broadcasting shall launch campaigns for greater awareness among parents to recognize early signs of child abuse, online risks and improving online safety for their child.
  • Schools shall undertake training programmes for parents at least twice a year, making them aware of hazards for children of free access to smartphones, internet at an early age. Based on the experiences of other countries, a proper practicable policy for restricting the use of smartphones by under-aged kids needs to be considered.