CHILD PORNOGRAPHY'S HARUM-SCARUM ON INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY

by Ridhima Sharma


BASIC RUDIMENTS ABOUT THE PHRASE:

It is credible that children are the bases of civilised and structured society, who are supposed to be the backbone of the nation’s revamped and remodelled construction; but it is sadistic notion that the future reformers are considered to be the most delicate section of the sovereign India. The child pornography’s incessantly surging rate has to be the predominantly primary issue to be discussed at the parliamentarian debates and dissensions. It is, indeed, the zero hour to endeavour the needful actions for the reshaping of this overlooked sphere which demanded the immediate steps to be urged by the statesmen.


The word pornography comes from Greek word 'pornographic' whose literal meaning is 'writing about prostitutes'. The popular definition of the pornography is the forced persuasion by the adults upon the children, more likely teenagers, to watch the child porn videos to make them familiar about the pornography before the actual commission of the offence upon them; whose main motive is the arousal of the sexual sensations in them; which will be more feasible to assaulters to commit the crime. Child pornography sometimes called “child sexual abuse images” because it is images of a child who is being sexually abused. It can be drawn, written or created by computer. It is this case, it is called “simulated child pornography” , “virtual child pornography”; as the child is simulated, virtual or drawn, that is, the child is not real.


Apart from above mentioned facts, there are plethora of plausible reasons for the person to look at child pornography; the most common is that viewer is a paedophile[1], hebephile[2] or ephebophile[3] who finds minors sexually attractive and uses pornography featuring minors to induce arousal and make them believe about the notion that minors having sex with adults is casual activity. Therefore, the child pornography is emergently required to be inquired upon by several organisations as well as statutory authorities to curb the menace.

INTERNET - THE MAJOR SOURCE OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

A phone is just as dangerous as a gun.[4] The prime cause of the continuous cases of child pornography is the easy accessibility of the material over the world wide web sources; through which the rate has soared up to multiple times as comparison to earlier times. According to a report by Indian Express, the U.S. based National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) told India's NCRB[5], that more than 25,000 cases of suspected child pornography material were uploaded across social media platforms in India in just 5 months. Furthermore, In the home ministry' annual report for 2018-19, it said, "More than 14 lakh persons have visited the cybercrime reporting portal while over 10,000 complaints were filed till march, 2019." Therefore, the proliferation of the cases of online child pornography has lead to exigencies of reformation of outdated legal provisions and below are some of the prominent suggestions underlined by some of leaders as well as legislators.

PROPOSED OUTLINED RECOMMENDATIONS:

(1) First and foremostly, a Rajya Sabha panel headed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, which looked into the issue of child sexual abuse material on social media, said that, “ Internet Service Providers (ISP) must bear liability in detecting and blocking websites showing such content and search engines must ensure that such websites are blocked.” Moreover, the panel want the POCSO[6] Act to considers an offence the act of “advocating or counselling sexual activity” to a minor and want an international cyber crime reporting portal to facilitate the reporting of sexual crimes against children from all over the world. Furthermore, a panel member said, “ whenever there are reports of child pornography, there should be ways that encryption can be broken. Also the portal is important under the act so that there is reporting by intermediaries and not by foreign authorities.”


(2) Secondly, a committee was set up by Rajya Sabha Chairman, Venkaiah Naidu after the parliament was informed that 377 websites hosting child pornography has been taken down and 50 police cases involving online sexual exploitation of children have been filed. Moreover, a Rajya Sabha member said, “ Though the definition has been amended last year, but we need the definition to be broadened to include sexually – explicit content in “written” and “audio” formats too. Even a material is advocating a sexual activity to a person under 18, that should be an offence.” Furthermore, the committee has also proposed to safeguard children against “cyber grooming”.[7]


(3) Thirdly, “NCPCR[8] said, “ It is asking for a police probe and initiating other steps over reports of rampant circulation of child sexual abuse videos on WhatsApp”.

Therefore, though the above prescribed suggestions are to be recommended several times but still the reluctant administrators and legalists have been ignorant of these propositions to secure the pupil's precious lives.

PERPETUAL VICTIMIZATION

The impact of child pornography seemed to be the most horrific and endless consequences upon the victims who are being harassed continuously from the time the video to be shared widely on the online websites. In most cases, the abuse is not a one time event, but rather on going victimization that progresses over months or years.[9]Some of the physical effects are the feelings of shame, unworthiness, anger and confusion; withdrawal and isolation; anxiety, depression, PTSD[10], including nightmares, flashbacks; mental illness[11] and much more alike that. It is acknowledged that the main concern of legislators and parents in relation to internet is child pornography, rather than other forms of sexually explicit content.[12] Therefore, resultantly, the child pornography has to be essentially controlled by the continuous efforts of the authoritative heads and efficacious leaders minds.

EXISTING LEGAL PROVISIONS NEED ENACTMENTS

In the Indian legal system, there are many provisions mentioned under the enacted laws and acts as asserted by the parliamentarians and jurists. Some of them are being prescribed under sections 292[13] and 293[14] of IPC and section 67B[15] of IT[16] Act. Apart from this, according to the amended definition under section 2 clause d(a) of POCSO Act, child pornography is “any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child which includes photograph, video, digital or computer generated image indistinguishable from an actual child and image created, adapted or modified but appear to depict a child.” In addition to this, sections 4[17],5[18],6[19],14[20]&15[21] of POCSO Act are also proposed to be amended to address the menace of child pornography. Moreover, article 21[22], 24[23],39(f)[24],45[25] of Constitution of India also regulates the provisions regarding the child protection. Despite of the numerous provisions, there is not even the single legislation or act which exclusively deals with the child pornography’s increasing number and this is biggest lacuna which is being existed in the vast legal system till now as the administrators have turned a blind eye towards this moot point which has to be dominantly the prime focus of their colloquial discussions.


RIGHT TO SEXUAL PRIVACY AND FREEDOM – NOT A LICENSE TO URGE CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

Pornography is like moral cancer that is eating our entire society at every second across country.[26] The innocent children can’t be made prey to these kind of painful situations and a nation by no means can afford to carry any kind of experiment with its children in the name of liberty and freedom of expression enshrined under article 19[27]. This freedom of article 19(1)(a)[28] is subject to reasonable restrictions which is necessary in the interest of general public and one such is the interest of public decency and morality& the consumption of pornography should be criminalised whether private or public enjoyment against protection guaranteed under article 19(1)(a) and 21[29]. In a recent case[30], the court orders that, “ The petitioner has got freedom to teach her child according to her philosophy , but that should be within the four walls of house. Her photographs were not in good taste and can’t be appreciated from the view point of an ordinary prudent believer.” Thus, the rights are provided with the liabilities to be followed, but the masses are only aware of their liberties regardless of the their duties, this is why, the government ought to put the significant considerations in the awakening of people’s obligations.


ENCLOSING NOTE

All in all, after the years of independence, there are some loopholes which has to be remedied according to evolving socio-cultural circumstances. But it is shameful on the eyes of egalitarian judicial system, that the most considerate section seemed to be most vulnerable strata of society as the minors are being sexually harassed globally and the evil of child pornography is the worst consequence, which has been on high pace, but still there is no protection to the victims by this comprehensive legal structure and this is why, the legalists and administrators ought to cut the mustard to transform the existing legalistic notions.

[1] Paedophile- a person who is sexually attracted to children. [2] Hebephile- a person who is sexually attracted to pubescent children who are in early adolescence. [3] Ephebophile- a person who is sexually attracted to later adolescents typically from 15-19 age children. [4] Michael Hockwater, Literacy specialist at Holland High School. [5] National Crime Records Bureau [6] Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 [7] Cyber Grooming- When someone befriends a child online with future intentions of sexual abuse and child pornography. [8] National Commission for Protection of Child Rights [9] Justicegov.in [10] Post traumatic stress disorder. [11] www.foothillschildadvocacycentre.org [12] Yaman Akdeniz, “Cyber Rights, Protection and Markets : Article governing pornography and child pornography Internet : The UK approach” [13] Sale etc. of obscene books etc. [14] Sale etc. Of obscene objects to young person [15] Punishment of publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in sexually explicit act etc. In electronic form. [16] Information Technology Act, 2000 [17] Punishment of penetrative sexual assault [18] Aggravated penetrative sexual assault [19] Punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault [20] Punishment for using child for pornographic purposes [21] Punishment of storage of pornographic material involving child [22] Right to life and personal liberty [23] Prohibition of employment of children in factories [24] Children are giving opportunities to develop in healthy manner and protection against exploitation [25] Provision for compulsory education [26] Kamlesh Vaswani V. Union Of India (2014) SCC 705 [27] Right to Freedom; the statement observed by bench of Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh [28] Right to freedom of speech and expression [29] Ranjit Udeshi V. State of Maharashtra AIR 1965 SC 881 [30] Rehanna Fathima A.B. V. State of Kerala Bail appl. No. 3861/ 2020

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