NHRC notices to the Centre, States, and Union Territories over the reported increase of 250-300% in Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) on social media in India

New Delhi, 16th May, 2023

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that the circulation of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) has increased by 250 to 300 percent on social media in India. Reportedly, the CSAM contents are from foreign, and the Indian Investigation Agencies have not come across any Indian-made CSAM so far.

The Commission has observed that the content of the media report, if true, amount to a violation of human rights relating to the life, liberty, and dignity of citizens, and protection of the young children from the danger of their sexual abuse on social media. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, the Director Generals of the Police of all the States/UTs, the Director, the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), and the Secretary, the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, calling for a detailed report in the matter within 6 weeks on the steps taken to prevent such menace on social media.

According to the media report, carried on 15th May, 2023 about 450207 cases of spread of child sexual abuse material, have been reported in the year 2023, so far. Out of these, Delhi Police has taken action in 3039 cases. Of these, 447168 cases are currently being studied. In some cases, even photographs taken lovingly, of young children by respective fathers, brothers and sisters in India have been classified as child sexual abuse by an American NGO. There were 204056 cases reported in the year 2022, 163633 in the year 2021, and 17390 in the year 2020 of child sexual abuse material on social media in India.

The NHRC has been concerned with the ill effects of online child sexual abuse material on human rights. It may cost irreparable psychological damage on children, impacting their growth and development. It has been organizing dialogues from time to time in the recent past to come out with ways and means to check this menace. Recently on 2nd& 3rd March, 2023, it organized a national seminar on CSAM at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, which was also addressed by the Union Minister of Law & Justice and the Union Minister of State for Electronics & IT, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship.

Earlier, on 21st July, 2020 also it had organized an online National Conference on the subject with valuable inputs from international organizations, government ministries, law enforcement agencies, national and state commissions, civil society groups, domain experts, and parents' associations.

The Commission has also issued 'Human Rights Advisory for the Protection of the Rights of Children in the Context of Covid-19' on dated 29th September 2020 and 2nd June 2021, respectively, wherein it made recommendations to the concerned authorities regarding cybercrime and online safety of children. These pertained to using the cybercrime reporting portal and PRAGYATA Guidelines for Digital Education. Also, a 'Discussion on Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) was held on 4th November 2022, wherein various domain experts brainstormed on the nature, extent, and different manifestations of the issue of CSAM.