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Friday, October 1, 2010

Pornography and child sexual abuse: EU Parliament discusses how to fight.

Public Management, Justice - Security, Human Rights, New technologies, Telecommunications,Local and Regional authorities,Administrations States,Non-profit organisations,International Organisation,

News Wednesday, September 29, a legislative proposal from the European Commission and aimed at protecting children from pornography has generated a lively debate between MEPs on how achieving the most suitable protection. They particularly questioned the effectiveness of the blocking of offending websites.

In March this year the European Commission proposed a new Directive on combating sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography which will replace current EU legislation dating from 2004. The Parliament's Civil Liberties held a hearing on the proposal. The directive proposes stronger sanctions, criminalising activities like grooming (online solicitation of children for sexual purposes) and sex tourism and prevention measures against recidivism whereby offenders cannot get job involving contact with children across the EU. It also proposes measures to restrict access to child pornography on the internet. The Civil Liberties rapporteur on the issue is Italian centre right MEP Roberta Angelilli. She said that we must strengthen prosecution, criminalise new forms of child sexual abuse, such as grooming through social chat rooms and above all protect child victims before, during and after criminal proceedings. Blocking websites - a good idea? When the proposal was first presented in March 2010 one aspect in particular provoked a major debate: Article 21 on blocking sites showing child abuse. Different views were expressed in the hearing: Some in favour said that it was a quick and effective way to protect the rights of victims and avoid re-victimisation and stressing it had to be a part of the solution. Those against claimed it was counterproductive, leaving the website online and only preventing accidental access and not addressing the real problem. The representative of the Culture Committee, Socialist Petra Kammerevert told the hearing that they should close down the sites all together and that blocking was not effective. They think that cutting of access is ineffective and that it also creates a structure of surveillance and censorship. The representative of the Women's Liberties Committee, Marina Yannakoudakis of the ECR group said that the ultimate aim was to remove such sites but that where it was not possible, blocking might be seen as a complementary tool. Abuses take place in familiar surroundings Fighting child abuse is very difficult. Children are vulnerable, and are often ashamed or afraid to report what has happened to them - especially if the offender is someone the child trusts. In addition, abuses take place in the child's surrounding. Dutch Liberal Sophie Veld said that they all focussed on all the scary men on the Internet, but that they failed to recognise that 80% of abuses took place in familiar surroundings - homes, schools, sport clubs and churches. There is also a lack of accurate and reliable statistics. According to Commission studies, a significant number of children in Europe – between 10-20%- will be sexually assaulted during their childhood. There is also the need to explain to children and give them tools allowing them to make the distinction between good and evil. Parents also need to know which steps to take as regards the internet in cases where they suspect abuse. Ms. Kammerevert noted that this was a generation of parents that don't fully understand what their children are doing on the computers. Research shows the phenomenon is increasing over time. The child victims portrayed in pornography are getting younger and the images are becoming more and more violent. Summarising, Ms Angelilli said the EP wants to come up with good tools to combat online abuse and exploitation of children...member states need to cooperate and make commitments. We need to be in touch with the world of internet and technology which is evolving all the time. The next step is for European Union governments to agree the directive - or to modify it.

Source :  European Parliament - Pressroom


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