India to ally with charities against online child porn

NEW DELHI • India's ministries focusing on children, health, education and technology plan to join forces with charities and police to stem a surge in images of children being sexually abused on the Internet, says the government.

The Ministry of Women and Children on Monday said one aim of the partnership was to set up a portal to share information such as best practices for dealing with child abuse online and proposals for updating legislation and policies.

"Child abuse is finding new forms and channels through mobile and digital technologies. Online child abuse and exploitation amplifies existing forms of offline bullying, stalking and harassment," said a ministry statement.

Child pornography is a global problem, say experts. The majority of images are found in North America and Europe as their Internet service is most developed.

There is no accurate data on the number of Indian children being exploited - being forced to show their sexual organs or engage in sexual acts - as many victims do not go to the police due to fear.

There were 96 reports of children in India being sexually exploited in online imagery in 2015 - up 140 per cent from 2014, according to National Crimes Records Bureau data.

A charity launched India's first Internet hotline last September to encourage people to report child porn in what it said was the first step to removing online images.

The hotline is a simple online form which the public, police, Internet companies and victims can access in either Hindi or English.

The new alliance will come up with a strategy to educate parents and teachers on the rights of children, and will also be a forum to share relevant research.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2017, with the headline 'India to ally with charities against online child porn'. Print Edition | Subscribe