Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), in collaboration with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), organised a roundtable titled “Online Child Sexual Abuse in Pakistan: Solutions and Call to Action”on May 3, 2018 in Islamabad. The roundtable brought together different stakeholders in order to discuss the nature of the problem faced in Pakistan. The event also marked the soft launch of IWF’s online child sexual abuse portal in Pakistan to report and remove online content pertaining to child sexual abuse.
The event started off with an introduction on the laws governing online child sexual abuse and pornography as well the online trends that are apparent in Pakistan. DRF shared its experiences of dealing with cases of minors facing online abuse and harassment. Valentina Picco, the International Development Manager at IWF spoke extensively about the mechanisms available at the national and international level for tackling online child abuse and the work that IWF is doing in the field.
IWF is an independent not-for-profit, industry self-regulatory body independent of government and law enforcement in the UK working to eradicate online images of child sexual abuse. It is the founding member of the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE) and has active online child sexual abuse portals in 27 countries, including India and Nepal, and is set to launch its portal in Pakistan after consultations with local partners today. The portal, to be available in English and Urdu, will seek to replicate the success of IWF in the UK where the country hosted 18% of the known online child sexual abuse material 1996 and just 0.2% in 2019. Nighat Dad, the Executive Director of Digial Rights Foundation, looks forward to the portal forming a bridge between child rights organisations working in Pakistan, law enforcement agencies and international reporting mechanisms: “online child exploitation and abuse has been treated as a moral panic for a long time, however very little headway has been made by way of tangible efforts to understand and tackle this issue.”
The portal will work with law enforcement, industry partners, DRF and its internet content analysts to identify, assess, report, seek removal and ‘hash’ criminal child sexual abuse imagery. It will also proactively search for child sexual abuse images and videos hosted in Pakistan and beyond. The portal is scheduled to officially launch on the Digital Rights Foundation website this summer.