INDIA: The Indian Child Protection Fund (ICPF) shows that the demand for child pornographic material (also referred to as Child Sexual Abuse Material) has shooted up during the lockdown period.

The ICPF reported that since the lockdown, online data monitoring websites are showing an increase in demand for searches like child porn, sexy child and teen sex videos .

Data from Pornhub, the world’s largest pornography website in the world, also reveals that traffic from India has increased by 95 per cent between March 24 and March 26, as compared to their average traffic, pre-Coronavirus outbreak, ICPF said in a statement.

ICPF has warned that this indicates that millions of paedophiles, child rapists and child pornography addicts have migrated online, making the internet extremely unsafe for children, and said without stringent action, this could result in a drastic rise in sexual crimes against children.

Earlier it was reported, the Childline India helpline received more than 92,000 SOS calls asking for protection from child abuse and violence in first 11days of the lockdown, clearly indicats that lockdown has turned into a nightmare not only for women but also the children who have abusers in their homes itself.

Of the 3.07 lakh calls received by the ‘CHILDLINE 1098’ helpline for children in distress across the country between March 20-31, covering the first week of the lockdown, 30% were about protection against abuse and violence on children, said Harleen Walia, Deputy Director of Childline India. This comes to 92,105 calls.

According to Walia, the number of calls after the lockdown, which started after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on March 24, has increased by 50%.

The data was shared in an orientation workshop for district based child protection units and attended by senior Women and Child Development ministry officials.

Discussions at the workshop focused on coronavirus-related issues and ways to reduce stress in children during the ongoing lockdown.

Some of the other calls received following the lockdown dealt with physical health (11% of calls), child labour (8%), missing and run away children (8%) and homeless (5%), according to figures shared by Walia in the meeting.

Besides, the helpline got 1,677 calls with questions on the coronavirus and 237 seeking help for those who are sick.

The data of  the calls received by the helpline and the rise in demand of child pornographic material altogether indicate a horrible reality and dangers the children are facing in the lockdown. The immediate help and action need to be taken to ensure the safety of children. The suggestion by Harleen Walia, of declaring Child Helpline an essential service, must be considered soon.

— Anita Pandey