situational analysis on child/revenge pornography in the Republic of Mauritius were presented, yesterday, during a workshop held at the Ravenala Attitude Hotel, in Balaclava.
The workshop is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare and the University of Technology. It aims to: devise appropriate Standard Operating Procedures, identify gaps in existing legislations, promote research analysis, and provide actionable recommendations on key priority areas to address child and revenge pornography in Mauritius.
The Minister of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, Mrs Kalpana Koonjoo-Shah; the Acting Senior Chief Executive of the Ministry, Mr Koosiram Conhye; and the Director General of the University of Technology, Dr Keith Robert Thomas, were present.
In her address, Minister Koonjoo-Shah underlined that online child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation has become a widespread and common global issue. She pointed out that millions of videos and images of children being sexually abused or exploited are uploaded across the world while highlighting that the vast majority of both victims and offenders remain unidentified.
Citing the India Child Protection Fund, she stated that the use of pornography websites increased by 95% during the 2020 lockdown period, and website monitoring data revealed that search words such as ‘child porn’, ‘sexy child’ and ‘teen sex videos’ spiked over that period.
This social scourge, the Minister indicated, has not spared Mauritius and the she attributed it mainly to the escalating use of technology and the internet. She dwelt on the recent cases of child/revenge pornography, whereby telecommunication and social media platforms such as Telegram and Facebook, were used to share denuded photographs of children and videos of women and girls.
The Minister expressed deep concern as this phenomenon has brought to light another form of violence against women and girls, which is used to shame, extort and harm women and girls in an outrageous manner. The possibility of women and children to be victims of ill-intentioned individuals using ICT tools make them more than ever vulnerable to abuse and violence, she indicated.
In order to address this situation in an effective and urgent manner, Mrs Koonjoo-Shah pointed out that her Ministry set up a technical committee to address the issue through a multi-sectoral approach and come up with recommendations as regards the development of collaborative institutional protocols for interventions to support victims.
Access to internet, she underlined, is primordial for the economic well-being of a country adding that it is imperative to ensure this digital public space is a safe and empowering place for everyone. She therefore called on concerted efforts of stakeholders to address this complex national scourge for a better and healthier society.