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Child Pornography

Context:

Recently, the EU lawmakers agreed to draft rules requiring Alphabet’s Google, Meta and other online services to identify and remove Online Child Pornography, stating that end-to-end encryption would not be affected.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Child Pornography
  2. Navigating Challenges in Addressing Pornography Issues
  3. About Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012

Child Pornography:

  • Child Pornography: Involves the creation, distribution, or possession of sexually explicit material featuring minors.
  • Online Manifestation: The digital form encompasses activities through digital platforms, exacerbating the gravity of the crime.
Legal Framework in India:
  • Legal Reference: Defined by the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2019.
  • Inclusive Description: Encompasses visual depictions involving children in sexually explicit conduct, spanning photographs, videos, or computer-generated images.
Indian Scenario:
  • Alarming Statistics: Cases surged from 738 in 2020 to 969 in 2021, as reported by the National Crime Report Bureau (NCRB) in 2021.
Impact on Children:
  • Psychological Ramifications: Linked to depression, anger, anxiety, and mental distress.
  • Behavioral Influence: Regular exposure may lead to a distorted sense of sexual gratification, potentially manifesting in real-life actions.
  • Addiction Analogy: Experts equate pornography’s impact on the brain to that of substance addiction.
Social and Gender Dynamics:
  • Gender Stereotypes: Adolescent pornography use is associated with reinforced gender stereotypes, particularly among males.
  • Attitudes Toward Violence: Exposure to pornography may contribute to attitudes supportive of sexual violence and violence against women.

Navigating Challenges in Addressing Pornography Issues

Diverse Socioeconomic Impact:
  • Class Disparities: The impact of pornography varies among children from different socioeconomic backgrounds, requiring tailored interventions.
  • Cultural Stigma: Societal perceptions of sex as negative contribute to a lack of healthy family dialogues, fostering external learning, and potential addiction.
Detection and Monitoring Challenges:
  • Complex Oversight: Agencies face significant difficulties in detecting and effectively monitoring child pornography activities.
  • Online Proliferation: Ubiquitous explicit content on mainstream websites and OTT platforms blurs the line between non-vulgar and vulgar material, complicating regulation efforts.

About Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012

  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 was enacted to provide a robust legal framework for the protection of children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process.
  • The framing of the Act seeks to put children first by making it easy to use by including mechanisms for child-friendly reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts.
  • The Act provides for a variety of offences under which an accused can be punished. It recognises forms of penetration other than penile-vaginal penetration and criminalises acts of immodesty against children too. Offences under the act include:
    • Penetrative Sexual Assault: Insertion of penis/object/another body part in child’s vagina/urethra/anus/mouth, or asking the child to do so with them or some other person
    • Sexual Assault: When a person touches the child, or makes the child touch them or someone else
    • Sexual Harassment: passing sexually coloured remark, sexual gesture/noise, repeatedly following, flashing, etc.
    • Child Pornography
    • Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault/ Aggravated Sexual Assault

Salient Features of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2019

  • Gender-Neutral Approach: The Act adopts a gender-neutral stance, applying equally to children of any gender and the accused.
  • Expansive Definition of Child Pornography: Criminalizes the act of watching or collecting pornographic content involving children.
  • Criminalization of Abetment: Makes abetment of child sexual abuse a punishable offence.
  • Age Definition: Defines a child as an individual below eighteen years of age.
  • Mandatory Reporting: Mandates the reporting of sexual offences, aligning with international child protection standards.
  • Police Responsibility for Child Protection: Empowers police personnel to urgently arrange for the care and protection of the child upon receiving a report of sexual abuse.
  • Child-Friendly Medical Examination: Ensures that medical examinations of the child are conducted with minimal distress.
  • Establishment of Special Courts: Special Courts conduct trials in-camera, safeguarding the child’s identity in a child-friendly manner.
  • Timely Disposal of Cases: Requires cases of child sexual abuse to be disposed of within one year from the date of reporting.
  • Comprehensive Recognition of Sexual Abuse Forms: Recognizes a broad range of sexual abuse forms as punishable offences.
  • Punishment for Child Trafficking: Imposes stringent punishment, including rigorous imprisonment for life and fines, for those trafficking children for sexual purposes.
  • Child-Friendly Trial Process: Implements procedural reforms to simplify the trial process, particularly tailored to ease the challenges faced by children.

-Source: The Hindu


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