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NHRC notice to Centre, States over ‘rise’ in circulation of child sexual abuse material on social media


NEW DELHI, MAY 16: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the Centre and States over a report that the circulation of child sexual abuse material on social media in India has increased by 250-300%, officials said on Tuesday.
Reportedly, such contents are from foreign countries and the Indian investigation agencies have not come across any Indian-made material so far, the rights panel said.
The Commission, in a statement, has observed that the content of the media report, if true, amount to a violation of human rights relating to the life, liberty, and dignity of citizens, and protection of the young children from the danger of their sexual abuse on social media.
The NHRC said it has taken suo motu cognisance of the media report that the circulation of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) has increased by 250-300% on social media in India.
Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi; Director Generals of Police of all States and Union Territories, Director, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), and Secretary, the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, seeking a detailed report within six weeks on the steps taken to prevent such menace on social media, the statement said.
According to the media report, carried on May 15, about 4,50,207 cases of spread of child sexual abuse material have been reported in 2023 so far. Out of these, the Delhi Police has taken action in 3,039 cases. Of these, 44,7168 cases are currently being studied, it said.
“In some cases, even photographs taken lovingly, of young children by respective fathers, brothers and sisters in India have been classified as child sexual abuse by an American NGO. There were 2,04,056 cases reported in the year 2022; 1,63,633 in the year 2021, and 17,390 in the year 2020 of child sexual abuse material on social media in India”, the statement said.
The NHRC said it has been concerned with the ill-effects of online child sexual abuse material on human rights. It may cost irreparable psychological damage on children, impacting their growth and development.
It has been organising dialogues from time to time in the recent past to come out with ways and means to check this menace. In March, it organised a national seminar on CSAM at Vigyan Bhawan here.
Earlier, in July 2020 also, it had organised an online national conference on the subject with valuable inputs from international organisations, Government Ministries, law enforcement agencies, National and State Commissions, civil society groups, domain experts and parents’ associations, it added.
The Commission has also issued “Human Rights Advisory for the Protection of the Rights of Children in the Context of COVID-19” in September 2020 and in June 2021, respectively, wherein it made recommendations to the authorities concerned regarding cybercrime and online safety of children.
These pertained to using the cybercrime reporting portal and PRAGYATA Guidelines for Digital Education.
Also, a discussion was held in November 2022, wherein various domain experts brainstormed on the nature, extent and different manifestations of the issue of CSAM.