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Growing Online Crime Against Children

Rishikant

With the growing and dynamic nature of internet technology and rising dependency of people on social media platforms, the process of luring, buying and selling of human beings, particularly children, online have become much easier for human traffickers. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Telegram etc. has provided an opportunity to the perpetrators to establish and build relationship with a child with the help of internet or other digital technologies with the motivation to facilitate either online or offline sexual contact with them. In most of the reported cases of online human trafficking, the traffickers tend to disguise their identity while approaching the children. These traffickers initiate contact with the children online and target them by assessing their vulnerabilities. Over the period of time, they build strong relationships with the children in order to gain their trust. Once the relationship is established, the children are lured in pretext of good work, marriage or relationship and are trafficked to other states, where they are forced into different scenarios of exploitation. The severity of the crime has been severely affected especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. With children spending majority of their time on the internet, they have not only become more vulnerable to the crime, but the platform has in fact made it easier for traffickers to approach them more than before. As a result of which there are several inter-state as well as international online sex rackets that have been busted by the local police over the period of time, where children are lured through Facebook and Instagram, and pushed into prostitution. Additionally, the medium of internet technology has not only made it easier for the traffickers to approach and lure the victims, but they are also using the platform to procure customers with the help of online advertisements, further providing them a safe channel to conduct their activities without getting caught. With time the brothel-based prostitution has now shifted to massage parlours, spa centres, hotels and flats in residential colonies. In such cases, people involved in the business are using the platform to approach the customers. They share photos and videos of girls online, on the basis of which their rates are decided. Once everything is confirmed, the payment is also made online following with the details of the location are shared with the customers. The online medium has also become a very common ground to commit the crime of sexual abuse against children, which is one of the major concerns for the law enforcement agencies and governments in India. According to the recent data, an estimated of 2.4 million instances of online child sexual abuse cases were reported in India from 2017 to 2020. 80% of these children were girls under the age of 14 years. In another major crackdown on cases of cases on online child sexual abuse, the CBI conducted search operations at 77 locations across 14 states in India and detained 10 people. According to them, the racket involved 5,000 offenders from around 100 countries spread across Asia, Africa, America and Europe. Related to the case, the agency registered 23 FIRs on November 14 against 83 accused on the allegations related to online child sexual abuse and exploitation. The growing use of the internet technology for the purposes of human trafficking has increased the vulnerabilities of children. It is important to ensure that such platforms are regulated strictly. There should be complete monitoring of unregulated access provided to the children that are further exploited by the traffickers.

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Eastern Times

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