The pandemic has resulted in excessive distress among the general public, because of various loss in terms of job, family, friends, financial security etc. which in turn is making people anxious and is turning them towards various online platforms to search for distractions of any form which may help to ease their stress and in due course pornographic materials available on different platforms have become an unavoidable source of distraction or say entertainment for such distressed minds, and when we talk of pornographic materials how can we ignore the infamous issue of “Child Pornography”, with an increase in peoples’ screen timing the cases of watching Child Pornography is increasing day by day also the India Child Protection Fund (ICPF) reported that since the Covid-19 induced lockdown was imposed, there has been a worrying increase in the demand for child pornography content (also known as ‘Child Sexual Abuse Material’). According to the same organization, the demand for searches such as child porn, sexy child and teen sex videos has increased swiftly whereas, demand for violent videos depicting children “choking,” “bleeding,” and “tortured” has increased by up to 200 per cent. Porn hub, the world’s largest pornography website, also reports a 95% rise in visits from India and this data makes it vivid that how lockdown and ample leisure time is backfiring in terms of innocent lives and presents a chilling reality of the extreme threat faced by India’s children during this period of lockdown because it was also revealed in a study that the majority of those who engage in child pornography also engage in child sexual molestation. So just imagine the vulnerability that children of this country face and also think about the very small aged children who have very less or say no idea about sexual abuse and its types.
THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT, 2012, was specially enacted by the Indian parliament to safeguard children from sexual offences and considers the child’s best interests and well-being to be essential at all times to ensure the child’s healthy physical, emotional, intellectual, and social development. Provides for the definition of a child in section 2 as “any person under the age of eighteen years”, The act further 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, and image created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict a child, which means The amended law will also apply to pornographic content where adults or young adults pretend to be children. Just recall a case that was filed in the state of Kerala where the mother of two minor children asked them to paint her naked body above the navel. The video of the act was recorded and then uploaded on social media with the heading — “Body Art and Politics”. And the mother took the stand that she was giving sex education to her children, but the court Prima facie, of the opinion that the petitioner used the children for the purpose of sexual gratification because the children are represented in the video uploaded in an indecent and obscene manner because they were seen painting the naked body of their mother and the court while rejecting her bail plea made an observation that “use a child’ shall include involving the child through a medium like print, electronic, computer, or any other technology for preparation, production, offering, transmitting, publishing, facilitation and distribution of pornographic material” and all these ingredients were evident in the act of the mother, which prima facie made this matter an issue under sections 13 which says “Whoever, uses a child in any form of media (including programme or advertisement telecast by television channels or internet or any other electronic form or printed form, whether or not such programme or advertisement is intended for personal use or for distribution), for the purposes of sexual gratification, which includes— (a) representation of the sexual organs of a child; (b) usage of a child engaged in real or simulated sexual acts (with or without penetration); (c) the indecent or obscene representation of a child, shall be guilty of the offence of using a child for pornographic purposes” and in this sense ‘‘use a child’’ shall include involving a child through any medium like print, electronic, computer or any other technology for preparation, production, offering, transmitting, publishing, facilitation and distribution of the pornographic material. , 14 which provides “Whoever uses a child or children for pornographic purposes shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years and shall also be liable to fine, and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years and also be liable to fine” & 15 of the POCSO Act provides for Punishment for storage of pornographic material involving a child as “(1) Any person, who stores or possesses pornographic material in any form involving a child, but fails to delete or destroy or report the same to the designated authority, as may be prescribed, to share or transmit child pornography, shall be liable to fine not less than five thousand rupees, and in the event of a second or subsequent offence, with fine which shall not be less than ten thousand rupees. (2) Any person, who stores or possesses pornographic material in any form involving a child for transmitting or propagating or displaying or distributing in any manner at any time except for reporting, as may be prescribed, or for use as evidence in court, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both. (3) Any person, who stores or possesses pornographic material in any form involving a child for the commercial purpose shall be punished on the first conviction with imprisonment of either description which shall not be less than three years which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both, and in the event of second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description which shall not be less than five years which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine”, Child Pornography is not only about viewing and making child porn but is also about acts like Printing, publishing, transmitting, selling, importing and exporting materials related to child pornography and all these acts are inherently covered under the same legislation. The POCSO Act was legislated a few years back because before this we had Section 293 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which makes it illegal to sell, distribute, exhibit, circulate, or otherwise distribute obscene material to anybody under the age of twenty and such acts are considered cognizable under it and also some sections of IT Act criminalise this offence India is also a signatory to various international conventions which not directly but indirectly concerns with child pornography.
Though there are laws and punishments legislated but then also the implementation of these laws are not taking place swiftly because if it had been the condition of rising in child pornographic materials available online would have been decreased but when we have a glance at the data available we find that Indians are using this lockdown for these shameful acts, Child pornography is one of the fastest-growing Internet industries, according to the National Center for Sexual Abuse, and India is one of its greatest customers and contributors. Every 40 seconds, a pornographic video is captured in India, with roughly 38% of these videos linked to child sexual abuse. According to the director of the Indian Cyber Army, around 25% of all search engine queries in India are related to child pornography, according to a new study by the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the Indian National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) more than 25,000 pieces of purported child sexual assault materials have been published to social media platforms in past few months from India. A few years ago the Hon’ble Supreme Court Imposed a fine of Rs. 1 Lakh On Internet Giants Like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft And WhatsApp For Online Child Pornography Cases but then also the case remained the same and despite decreasing the cases are still increasing, because the fine imposed on them is very minuscule in terms of their everyday earning and even today there are innumerable online platforms where child pornographic materials are available. This shows that there is no fear of sanctions amongst these platforms.
Children should be made aware of issues such as good touch, bad touch and other acts related to sexual abuse because if children will not understand what they are subjected to, they will think that these practices are a part of normal upbringing and tomorrow they will do the same with other children when they will grow into youngsters tomorrow also imagine the situation where the video of a gruesome painful sexual assault of a child goes viral and some insane people view it for the sake of their entertainment but imagine how badly it will worsen the trauma of child victims by keeping the wounds fresh if by mistake they see it on any public platform.
If these issues of grave severity are not checked properly and laws are not implemented strictly only god knows what effect will it pose on the children and also upon the society as a whole because if we fail to provide security to our children then how can we think of golden future for our nation.