We’ve known for a while that India has a serious child pornography problem. Even though the country has banned pornography entirely, it continues to be one of the biggest contributors and consumers of child abuse content.
But latest data has revealed an even more disturbing trend, especially as the nation has been under a tight lockdown since March 23.
According to the India Child Protection Fund (ICPF), there has been a steep increase in demand for searches like “child porn”, “sexy child” and “teen sex videos”, along with an increase in traffic on Pornhub from India by 95 percent between March 24 and 26, 2020, as compared to before the lockdown.
The ICPF, which was set up earlier this year 2020 to support NGOs with funding resources for curbing the exploitation of children, has flagged this “high demand” for searches for child porn as a potential threat to children who are stuck at home because of the lockdown.
The spike in child porn consumption during the lockdown period—says Nivedita Ahuja, the chairperson of ICPF—is indicative of how “millions of paedophiles, child rapists and child pornography addicts have migrated online, making the Internet extremely unsafe for children.
The report, which is titled “Child Sexual Abuse Material in India” has trends from 100 Indian cities that include New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Indore among others. In December 2019, the ICPF recorded an average demand for child porn of 5 million per month in these 100 cities.
Over the last few weeks, international agencies such as the Europol, the United Nations and End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) have reported that paedophiles and child pornograpy addicts have been increasing their activities to lure children who are now spending more time online.
A report by the International Labour Organisation says that “cyber-trafficking, grooming (the act of befriending a child, and sometimes the family, to lower the child's inhibitions with the objective of sexual abuse), sextortion, sexting, live streaming of child sexual abuse” are some of the new trends of crime against children and vulnerable communities.
In India, the ICPF has been studying the trends and landscape of child pornography or child sexual abuse material (CSAM). “A vast majority of individuals were interested in generic CSAM content involving ‘school girls sex’ and the demand for content with specific age groups, sexual actions and locations was growing,” further stated the new report.
More disturbingly, though, the report adds that the demand for specific content mostly skewed towards violent videos and images. “While all child pornography is violent, 18 percent individuals exhibited explicit intent for videos where children were choking, bleeding, tortured, in pain or screaming,” said the report.
“The demand for this kind of content grew as much as 200% during the project duration. This indicates that Indian men are not ‘satisfied’ with generic child pornography and demand violent and exploitative content.”
A crackdown has already been initiated in India, most of which involves using technology to track unlawful content, especially on social media platforms. At the same time, organisations like ICPF are stepping up to warn authorities of such dangerous trends at a time like this.
Said Ahuja, "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."
This report originally appeared in Vice.