Online Child Sexual Exploitation is the a form of child abuse that takes place through the use of internet that involves mobile phones, computers and a child can either log in at cyber café or use gadgets that they own or given by friends.
There are different forms of Child Exploitation such as child domestic work, child soldiers, recruitment and involvement of children in armed conflict, Sexual exploitation and pornography. With the advancement in technology the spread of internet in Kenya has incredibly shot up with at least 28 million mobile users and 7.7 million social media users.
At least 1 to 2 million children are forced into sexual exploitation and pornography per year and thus exposed to serious trauma, to diseases, alcohol and drugs. With the technology at hand it facilitates online sexual exploitation of children through live stream using the webcam or cellphones either for profit or to seek attention and closure. Perpetrators of Sexual offences have gone an extra mile of creating apps that they use to target, recruit and coerce children to participate in sexual activity.
There are different factors that force children to zero in into these activity and we have identified some core reasons such as: High poverty level, lack of attention from parents and loved ones, High access to internet, rural urban Migration, Increase of social norms and increase at tourism sector.
Online sexual exploitation of children begins when they are able to access the internet via different social media platforms either using their phones, computers, or at the cyber café and it dawns when the offender gains access to the potential victim and start playing psychological manipulation and coercion, grooming them in child exploitation. Some offenders offer payments and ask the child to practice the act and through grooming they try to perfect the child into the act thus they can request for live stream or pre-recorded videos.
Through this dubious and illegal activities projects the child into commercial sexual exploitation and abuse through live stream. Perpetrators can pay to direct the sexual abuse of children from anywhere in the world while the abuse takes place in private homes, Internet cafes, or “cyber dens” in or near the child’s community.
The online sexual exploitation of children presents new challenges for law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and victim service providers. They have little experience in detecting this kind of crime ,conducting online investigations, obtaining evidence from internet service providers and presentation of the evidence in court thus, there’s need for sensitization, mobilization and creating awareness to the police, community ,service providers, community, children and CSO’S.
With at least 1.8 million children are exploited in prostitution and pornography worldwide .50000 are involved in sexual exploitation in Kenya ,1216 are involved in child abuse,303 in sexual abuse ,356 in physical abuse ,313 in child neglect, 82 in child marriage and16 in child trafficking according to report given by UNICEF IN 2016.
Article 34 of the UNCRC stipulates that state parties should protect a child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual Abuse. Article 36 note state parties shall protect the child against all forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of child’s welfare.
There’s need for Kenya to ensure that we protect our children from any form of abuse and victimization. Stopping these activities will help reduce missing of children, child trafficking, child pornography and child prostitution. We should work towards creating awareness to ensure we minimize this menace to have a sane society.