The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) carried out searches Operation with the code name ‘Megh Chakra’, in 21 states/Union Territory in relation to the sharing and dissemination of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) online.
CBI launched operation Megh Chakra after receiving intelligence from Interpol headquarters, the Crime against Children unit in Singapore.
Information at hand shows that the Singapore unit received field inputs from the New Zealand Police, which were then sent to India via Interpol.
Highlights of Operation Megh Chakra
Searches were conducted at 59 places by the federal investigative agency in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Goa, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, etc.
The CBI operation was targeted at cloud storage services that peddlers used to distribute audio-visual content of illegal sexual activity with children.
More than 50 suspects’ electronic gadgets, including computers and mobile phones, were found during the search operation.
Moreover, there is reported to be a significant amount of CSAM present in a number of electronic devices, according to the preliminary examination of these using cyber forensic tools.
A similar operation by CBI named “Operation Carbon” was conducted in November 2021.
What is Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM)?
In India, it is not illegal to view adult content in private (Supreme Court in 2015 case).
However, the IT Act makes it illegal to look for, browse, download, or exchange child pornography.
In particular, CSAM refers to the creation, sharing, and ownership of photos or movies that have explicit or offensive content involving children.
Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) vs. child pornography
CSAM is sometimes referred to as child pornography. However, it’s best to avoid using the word “child pornography” for the following reasons:
The phrase “child pornography” misrepresents the genuine nature of the content and underplays how terrible the abuse is from the perspective of the child.
The term “pornography” is typically used to refer to content that is distributed for the goal of sexual gratification and shows adults engaging in consensual sexual activity. When applied to minors, this phrase carries the danger of normalizing, demeaning, and even legalizing child sexual abuse and exploitation.
Child pornography implies consent, which a child is unable to offer in a legal sense.
CBI’s Initiative to Combat Online Child Sexual Abuse
The CBI is the nodal agency for Interpol’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) image and video database, which enables investigators from countries involved to exchange information on incidents of child sexual abuse.
To combat an online fight to save children from CSAM, CBI has taken various initiatives over the year. A few important of them are-
- Operation Megh Chakra
- Operation Carbon
- Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (OCSAE) Prevention
OCSEA Prevention Unit
Under its Special Crime Zone, the Central Bureau of Investigation has established an Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (OCSAE) Prevention/Investigation Unit.
The territorial jurisdiction of the unit would be throughout the country.
The newly established Unit will gather, and distribute data regarding the publication, transmission, creation, gathering, seeking, browsing, downloading, advertising, promoting, and distribution of data relating to online child sexual abuse and exploitation.
investigation of such offenses covered by provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (1860), the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012, and the Information Technology Act 2000 (21 of 2000), if applicable, as well as under other Laws of the land.
The agency conducted a similar exercise in November 2021 under the code name “Operation Carbon,” in which suspects were raided in 13 States and one Union Territory. The CBI subsequently registered roughly 20 cases involving more than 80 people.
What are the Consequences of Child Abuse?
Sexual abuse of children can have a lifetime impact on a person’s thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Consequences on one’s physical, mental, and behavioral health could be both short- and long-term.
Effect on Physical Health
- sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- physical injuries
Effect on Mental Health
- signs of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Effect on Behaviour
- drug abuse, including the misuse of opioids
- dangerous sexual practices, such as having several partners or acting in a way that could lead to STIs or pregnancy
- greater potential for sexual assault
- greater likelihood of suicide or suicide attempts
A person’s likelihood of being victimized in the future can also rise after experiencing child sexual abuse. For instance, current research has discovered:
- Females who experienced sexual abuse as children had a 2–13-times higher risk of sexual violence victimization.
- People who were subjected to child sexual abuse are twice as likely to endure non-sexual intimate partner violence.
Constitutional Provision Related to Child Abuse
Article 15(3) of the Indian Constitution states that the state must make special arrangements for children. In Article 39 of Part IV of the Constitution, the state is required to uphold its policy (among other things) to prevent child abuse;
Additionally, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which was ratified by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, provides universal recognition of the rights of children of its member states.
Child Rights in India Includes
- Article 14- Right to equality.
- Article 15- Right against discrimination.
- Article 21- Right to personal rights and due legal process.
- Article 21A- Article Right to elementary and compulsory elementary education for all children between the ages of 6 and 14.
- Article 23- Right to protection from slavery and forced into slave labor.
- Article 24- Right to be safe from any dangerous activity till the age of 14.
- Article 39F- Abuse and moral and material abandonment.
- Article 46- The right to be protected from social inequality and other forms of oppression of poor segments of the population.
POCSO, an initiative of the government to combat child sexual abuse
The POCSO Act was passed in 2012 under the Ministry of Women and child development to address the crimes of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children through strict legal provisions.
This Act addresses numerous offenses including penetrative, pornographic, and non-contact sexual abuse, and provides punishment for the same.
Additionally, it lays up a clause for compensating a child victim.
According to the Act, every offense committed against a child in violation of the POCSO Act must be reported. One is expected to report such an offense when one becomes aware of it because neglecting to do so will result in action being taken against them.
Article Written By: Priti Raj