BJP leader and Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha Rajeev Chandrasekhar has written to Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad urging his intervention to curb digital sexual abuse of children. Arguing that easy availability of several mobile applications that act as a breeding ground for the sexual abuse of children online were fast growing, Chandrasekhar rued that the IT ministry that Prasad heads has done little to curb the menace and requested shutting down of apps that threaten children’s safety.
“There is an exponential growth in a few short video mobile apps due to their simple-to-navigate interface, and free availability on Google Play or App Store. Apps such as Kwai, Clip, TikTok, NewsDog, LiveMe and Helo, which threatens the safety of children are easily accessible and are becoming a new breeding ground for ‘grooming’ underage children for child pornography,” he said quoting a media report.
The Upper House member said that as per Interpol, close to 2.4 million incidents of online child sexual abuse were reported last year in the country. He also quoted the US-based National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children report that said that more than 24.46 lakh children were abused in India in 2017.
“Such Apps have a high demand from vernacular entertainment consumers in different states in India. The abusers try to contact children using these vernacular languages. With easy availability of internet and smart phones, there has been a surge in cases of child sexual abuse, harassment, bullying and blackmail where the perpetrator finds his victim on one of the available social video apps.” Chandrasekhar said.
In his recommendations, Chandrashekhar suggested that a permanent institutional framework must be created so as to monitor and regulate online content which comes under the category of Digital Exploitation of Children. He also suggested immediate programmes with all stakeholders that include ISPs, the police, parents, schools etc.
Chandrashekhar also called for a revision and amendment to the IT Act, 2000 in order to provide strict penalties to those who facilitate such content and toughen the legal framework that includes Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act. The Rajya Sabha member also suggested a ban on mobile applications which do not check inappropriate content involving children.
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Children constitute 44.4% of India’s current population and are the future of our nation. It is our responsibility to ensure that they get a safe and happy childhood that they deserve. This issue requires serious attention. Regrettably, your ministry has done very little so far on this issue. I hope you and your ministry will take strict action to prevent Digital Child Abuse in India.” Chandrasekhar wrote.