“Childhood should be carefree, playing in the sun; not living a nightmare in the darkness of the soul”.
—- Dave Pelzer
We rarely come across this unpopular quote on internet saying that “in the eyes of a child you will see the world as it should be”. Child: According to Art. 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a child is “every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.” Children are the greatest gift to humanity. The sexual abuse of children is the most heinous crime. It is an appalling violation of their trust, an ugly breach of our commitment to protect the innocent.
This is the chaotic world which we are showing them & to our shame it is these things which the children are perceiving in their mind. Consider it a satire that; the time is not far away when the children in the womb of their mother will refuse to come out & to which they would answer innocently that, oh dear mother please let me be safe here in your womb & don’t expose me to the cruel world outside waiting to exploit me. There are special safeguards in the constitution that apply specifically to children. The constitution envisages a happy & healthy childhood for children which is free from abuse & exploitation. It is clear that child pornography has a large number of audience worldwide, which creates demand for global sexual exploitation of children. Use of internet for child pornography is a huge industry, this not only creates demand for pornographic content but also encourages child being sexually abused for mere pleasure of the abusers. The basic differences between adult & child pornographic content is the consent of the performer, in child pornography, the child has not attained certain level of maturity to give consent for such type of content. Pornography is like a media in sex tourism. Child pornography is somehow connected with child prostitution as it is the ground on which people starts to think children as a medium to satisfy their sexual urges. This lead to create demand for both child pornography & child prostitution & as field for yielding money, people fulfil this demand, encouraging sexual exploitation of children.
SUBJECTIVE STUDY ON SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN IN UNITED KINGDOM & INDIA
The subjective study of these country is divided into three broad categories namely:
- Child Pornography
- Child Sex Tourism
- Cross-Border Trafficking
- UNITED KINGDOM
- Child Pornography- The use of child pornography has been a serious problem which is faced by the United Kingdom. Reports from the law enforcement indicate that there has been an increase in the number of images circulated throughout UK. Considerable demand for child pornography has exploited more children due to the increase in the use of internet. There has also been increase in “SGII”, where children take indecent still or video images of themselves & share them online, where they cannot control who or how many people can see their images once they are posted.
Child-Sex Tourism- Since 2008, there has been an increase in government, industry & civil society cooperation & efforts to better combat sexual exploitation of children in travel & tourism. UK government has campaigned to amend legislative & jurisdictional gaps related to lawful mobility & the prosecution of child sex tourists. Further, the ABTA, The Travel Association & ECPAT UK joined forces to organize local & online training sessions & participate in the Child Protection Group, a multi-faceted group that has members from different UK industry & government sectors that work together to eliminate child sex tourism.
- Cross-Border Trafficking- The UK continues to be a significant transit & destination country for child trafficking. In total, 202 children have been identified as trafficked into & within the UK over the period 1 January 2011 to 15 September 2011. This figure includes referrals made to the National Referral Mechanism & referrals received by CTAIL, operated by the NSPCC. The data used is current as of 15 September 2011. It should be noted that the data used is a ‘snapshot in time’ & some outstanding NRM decisions are yet to be made regarding the status of these potential victims of trafficking.
- Child Pornography- In India the increase in technology & communication systems have contributed to the increase in child pornography. Child pornography has only been recognized as one growing problem in India. According to Interpol there are explicit & obscene materials of children found on the internet which have originated from India. It is a country where child prostitution & child sex tourism has deeply rooted itself on the country’s surface, paving an easy way for the child pornography to enter into the Indian market. A pornographic material is hard to erase completely from the internet because an image on the web can be downloaded & viewed by others.
- Child Sex Tourism- There is a term in Sanskrit “vasudhaiva kutumbikam” which states that the whole world is a family. This principle has guided us from the very beginning of the mankind. But for now the Indian society is forgetting the knowledge which was passed to us by the great sages of all the times. We, in order to become a capitalist state forgot all our principles & ethics & now one’s person fortune depends on another’s inequality & then as we can today see that a growing travel industry has contributed to child sex tourism. This is not only because of the foreign tourists visiting the country but also the internal tourists are equally responsible for creating a demand in the Indian market for CST. CST in India involves hotels, travelling agencies & some companies also which directly provide children for the purpose of prostitution. There are some destinations which are heaven for child sex tourism namely Goa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, etc. where tourists can directly approach children for sex. Nowadays religious sites have also come under its effect where demand is created by the visiting pilgrims as shown by NHRC report.
- Cross-Border Trafficking- In 2005, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) estimated almost half of the children trafficked within India are as young as 11 years old. The NHRC study reveals that the majority of trafficking victims in India belong to socially deprived sections of society, including scheduled castes & tribes. India is continuously facing significant internal & international trafficking problem. From 2001-2003 India was placed in tier-2 in the annual TPR, but it has been downgraded to the tier-2 watch list from 2004 to 2010 which means that India has failed to show evidence of increasing efforts to address trafficking in children. India lacks a national law enforcement response to any form of trafficking, but took some preliminary measures to create a central law enforcement to do so. As for cross-border trafficking, young girls, as young as seven, are trafficked from Nepal & Bangladesh in major prostitution centers of Mumbai, Calcutta & Delhi.
PREVENTION OF CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL OFFENCES THROUGH NEW STRATEGIES AND IDEAS
CHILDREN ARE ALSO VULNERABLE IN THEIR HOMES
“The first time, I was sold for sex, I was six years old. I was sold by my own mother. In my mind I wanted to be anywhere but not in that room. I could not change my reality on my own. I was little girl, who stopped believing in freedom, when I realized I could not push hard enough for the door to open. I missed field trips & dances. I learned hideous things instead. Princess & fairytales & parents who love & adore them. I had adoring people too, men who would pay for sex from a little girl. Doctors, lawyers, men with nice smiles & evil intentions. These men defined my world. When I emerged from that hell, I could not believe in freedom. Three years later, I helped other girls to be free because I wanted fairy tales in this place to be real. I never want any other girl to experience what I have”. This story of a young girl was narrated by Jessica Munoz, a social activist working for this cause. Family members itself sometimes sell their children & nowadays it has become very easy to sell & buy children by the click of a button. It’s a 32-billion-dollar industry. Recently the CEO of backpage.com was arrested because he posted in his website an offer to sell minor girls. To overcome this type of atrocities 2 measure which can be adopted are:
- Counsellor Appointed by Government: The main issue of crime against children is that the victims are of age 2 to 8 years, who are innocent, immature & also are unaware of any kind of offences. Secondly, the offences are mainly done by their close family members, teachers or any other guardians, who the children blindly trust upon. The child who is being influenced by love & care is not aware of the offence which is carried upon them. Children should be allowed to communicate their fears & talk openly, Even if he/she felt of something being done wrong to them, is unable to tell anyone because of reason that sometimes either parents & teachers are being too strict to them i.e. unfriendly to them or more of sophisticated to them, so to overcome this kind of barriers of communication, state can appoint an officer in every school, who will also be recommended by famous or listed NGO’s especially working for the child help, who will be counselling the kids about this issues in a week or monthly drives. He/she will be friendly, supporting & understanding to every child in the school & will analyze any unwanted behavior of the children or any symptoms (i.e. anxiety or depression) in a young child, this could mean being unusually fussy, being afraid, or not being interested in activities. This type of small symptoms will be analyzed by the officers & will be discussed with the parents of the children & principals of the school. Overall, this officer will be observer-cum-counselor to the children & parents to overcome this small & basic problem, which will provide children with safety and will also help children who have already suffered from any of the crime discussed in this issue by providing them with proper motivation and help them heal themselves to normal. This solution may be seemed smaller to some people but is capable of bringing out great result if carried out properly and is capable of delivering children with the proper guidance and support at the time of such atrocities.
- Virtual Programs to eradicate “Online Child Tourism”: An online computerized virtual program, started by Terre des Hommes, Netherlands, an organization working against child exploitation in Europe, Asia & East Africa. It has developed a computer application, which aims at identifying pedophiles engaged in the online sexual activity like online chat rooms & online video chats etc. this program consists of a 10 years virtual girl available for this chat room to identify pedophiles involved in this unlawful activity. This computer programs can be made, which can work using artificial intelligence technology or manually by the technical experts, whichever technics can be used analyzing the condition and capacity of the work and money to be allowed. Empirically talking this computer application helped to identify more than 20,000 men in only 20 weeks from 71 countries with only 19 chat rooms, which were later arrested by the countries with the help of Interpol. This program can be extremely useful in destroying online child pornographic activity and online sex tourism while at the same time identifying the pedophiles involved in the act. This pedophiles after identification must be penalized in order to stop this type of crimes against children. The detection & arrest with a proper penalization of the pedophiles is necessary in order to make a stop to online sex tourism and online exploitation of children.
Further, we have tracked down five points which can be useful to prevent the atrocities:
- Coordination & cooperation between government, industry & civil society that can expose the chain of persons who are involved in exploiting children.
- In the past three years, there has been an increase in the level of reporting & the conviction for sexual offences against children in the UK. This increase can be attributed in part to greater awareness efforts & national campaigns to combat sexual abuse as well as encouragement of the early reporting of these crimes.
- Under the EU framework for safer mobile use by children & young people, UK mobile operators (such as Vodafone UK & T-Mobile) developed a code of practice for UK mobile operators for use in the UK market, we can take this as an initiative in each place wherever it is possible. As learning good things from some other source is not a bad deed.
- Child & youth participation should be the main concern in formulating the government policies according to the need of the present age.
- An independent Rapporteur or Anti-Trafficking Commissioner with a specific focus on children should be established to improve data collection & evaluate government action to combat trafficking. The government programs that address children in government care need to be overhauled so that there is greater transparency & accountability. Public & school-based initiatives should be implemented to mainstream knowledge about the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
In setting priorities for further development, educational programs using consultations and analyzing have some claims, as this could help children becoming independent to handle the situation more precisely and effectively. Secondly, talking about the explicit content of children spreading over the internet from last few years, leading to their exploitation of children, can only be stopped by the government taking initiatives and starting a virtual computer program for detection and punishment of the pedophiles for abusing the child’s innocence and integrity at the very basic level. A major reform in sexual abuse prevention policies must be undertaken to safeguard the system from getting demolished before it’s too late. Rather than finding alternatives, new strategies must be examined and empirically proved efficient before being widely embraced.
Sexual abuse must be taken as a special challenge, as it is different in many of its dimensions from other types of child maltreatment, crime, and child welfare problems. A lot of programs had been initiated and a lot more has to be initiated to overcome this problem. With additional research and program development, there is every reason to believe much more can be accomplished.
This Article is written by Animesh Tripathi and Aviral Pandey, Student, Kalinga School of Law,Campus-16, KIIT University
The manuscript was submitted for the National Seminar on Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Organised by Bengal Law College in association with RostrumLegal on February 17th & 18th, 2018.
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