Kerala: Spurt in child sexual abuse content in lockdown

Kerala sees spurt in child sexual abuse content during lockdown; police arrest 47

Representative image. Credit: iStock

Kerala has witnessed a spurt in content on child sexual abuse available online during the Covid-19 lockdown. 47 persons were held by the police in a statewide covert operation on Saturday.

As many as 143 devices, such as mobile phones, hard disks, memory cards and computers containing graphics, illegal videos and pictures of children were seized in the operation code-named P-HUNT 20.1. It was very distressing to notice that many of the videos and pictures were of local children between age group six to 15, said Additional Director General of Police and Nodal Officer of Kerala Police's Cyberdome, Manoj Abraham.

Abraham said that the increase in online material on child sexual abuse came to notice during a digital analysis conducted by the Kerala Police's Countering Child Sexual Exploitation Team during the lockdown. Further in-depth probe found many social media groups, with over 200 members each were found sharing such pictures. Many obscene pictures and videos inside houses and flats were uploaded in recent times. Abuse of children locked up in their homes was evident from these.

State Police Chief Loknath Behera ordered the statewide operation. Searches were carried out at 110 locations and 89 cases were registered. Those arrested include youngsters working in professional jobs. Most of them were IT savvy and hence encrypted handles were used to upload and download the material. Some were suspected to be involved in the trafficking of children, said Abraham.

He said that many other social media groups were under police surveillance. According to law, viewing, distributing or storing of any child pornographic content is a criminal offense that can attract up to five years imprisonment and up to Rs 10 lakh fine.