Entire nation is going through a hardship during this Covid-19 pandemic. Life of people is at a standstill. In this condition of lockdown people are spending more time to socialize via various online platforms such as facebook, whatsapp, twitter, Instagram etc. If we closely monitor the activities of facebook or whatsapp we can see a surge of posts revealing various domestic activities and a competition to get likes and comments. Now think about those people who also have smartphones but have not enough scope to socialize, may be because of lack of friends or popularity. So how will they spend time? Obviously when everyone has smartphone in their hands and maximum teenagers will prefer to engage in those devices than to interact with real world. According to Capacitymedia.com, Verizon reported a 34% increase in VPN traffic between march 10 and 17 of 2020 and according to Cnet.com, the demand for VPNs increased by 44% over the second half of march. Here is the question. Why there is a certain surge in private network. This is obviously to hide online activities. And normally people goes incognito while doing some private activities. Yes this is the birthplace of various activities that give rise to incidents like child abuse and child pornography. Social media is flooded with pornographic materials. Few social platforms allow these and in few social platforms these are illegal. Despite of that a simple search can show you million posts about pornography in these social platforms and child pornography is not uncommon.
What are the reasons? When there are so many dedicated pornography sites what is the necessity of the users to use social media platforms to access these materials. The reason is very simple. Because of popularity and easy availability of these platforms. Anyone can open a fake social media account and can upload materials of child abuse and child pornography for commercial purposes. And today’s frustrated generation consume that venom without having a single clue that this is illegal in these platforms. The age bandwidth of these people are very wide. According to reports the age limit is from 16 years to 60 years. According to a report published in https://fightthenewdrug.org , the average age of a child’s first exposure to pornography is 8 years to 11 years!
If we want to solve this problem we have to harness the real problem behind it. Think about these lockdown days. When you are getting bored because you don’t have to attend office then what is the general condition of those people who used to sit at a corners of their room all time irrespective of whether there is lockdown or not. Who are these people? They are jobless, pass out students without any job consuming social stigma of jobless, a lonely one without a real friend’s group. How do they spend their time? Being intoxicated either to intoxicants or social media. When they can’t access their real friends, they quench their thrust by developing a virtual world of friends in social media. By these the child traffickers and child abusers get access to spread their materials and make these people their targeted market.
As on 31st March 2018, a total of 1.66 lakh cases of sexual abuse were pending in courts. So should we wait? By the time the court will start hearing more child abuse cases will be reported. So what is the solution? Awareness, awareness and more awareness! If we conduct a survey about how many people are really aware about the illegality of uploading and propagating the child pornographic materials. The result will be quite surprising. Because in India most of the people forward whatsapp message without knowing its future consequences. According to terms and conditions of social media platforms whatsapp, facebook and Instagram do not allow any kind of pornographic materials. But as on November 2019 consensual pornography and adult content is allowed in twitter. But there is an another flaw. The minimum age to register in twitter is 13 year. So a child also can access those pornographic materials from twitter and become more vulnerable to the sexual exploiters and child abusers. Despite of these policies a lot of fake profiles can be discovered by a simple search in facebook. And among these profiles many may have been engaging uploading and propagating child pornography.
So what do you think we can stop these by merely banning them from these platforms? No surely this is not an effective idea. This is like giving paracetamol to lower a fever. We have to know the real cause of fever. And the real cause is the above explained socioeconomic and psychological issues. This is a huge manpower engaging in to these activities. If we can change their mind set by spreading enough awareness then these incidents of child abuse, sexual exploitation of children can be lowered. In this way long chain can be created. The real child abusers who are using the social media to propagate their materials to the younger generations and spoiling their future, this younger generation can be used against those abusers by simply creating awareness.
And this is not a very big task. Let say about Facebook. Just make a group of volunteers and each volunteer will sent message to a certain number of profiles in that particular social media. The message will be about illegality of these activities such as uploading and propagating child pornographic materials, provisions of The Information Technology Act, 2000 and the POCSO Act 2012. And then they will forward the same message to other contacts. In this way not only they will be able to come out from this virtual world of happiness by making a chain of awareness but we will get a huge amount of human resource who were on a verge of spoiling their career by being engaged in to these activities and will be able to lower the child abuse cases.
Electronic media such as news channels can be used to spread awareness about sexual exploitation of children. Today’s media is engaging in mainly political news and debates. We can merely see any debates on social issues on news channels. So NGOs, and other volunteer organisations may approach to these news channels to propagate and hold debates on exploitation and abuse of children and child pornography.
Police and administration can also help us to propagate our awareness idea. Beginning from a very grass root level such as Panchayats and municipalities to district level. They can use hoarding and banner depicting about legal issues of sexual exploitation of children in online platforms and displaying those hoardings in rail stations, bus stops and certain public places.
In this way the message can be conveyed directly to the abusers. India Child Protection Fund (ICPF) has reported a 100% increase of online search of child porn during the lockdown period. Now the children who are around these people are really vulnerable. If we can start an awareness movement in this way our voices can be reached directly to the abusers. And this is not a very big task. By sitting home we can send messages to the facebook and whatsapp profiles and that will hardly take few minutes.
Parents and teachers have a very important role for keeping our children safe. They should teach their children about the difference of good touch and bad touch. Children should be monitored all time so that they don’t have access to social media and smartphone rather they become engage in different real world activities. Parents and teachers should also be aware about the proper use of social media platforms and then teach their children what to upload and share and what not.
India shares the largest percentage of child population in the world. More than 400 million children are in India. But the social status of all is not same. So the origins of problem are also different. If we want to control the cases of online child pornography and sexual abuses then the people of all strata should come forward and join hands to make this world safe for our future generation.