The number of reported cases of Web sites distributing child pornography and which are registered with a Taiwanese domain name has been increasing over the years, End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) Taiwan secretary-general Lee Li-feng (李麗芬) said yesterday.
Lee made the remarks in a presentation at a forum on the situation of online commercial sexual exploitation of children in Taiwan.
The forum heard discussions from experts from home and abroad.
The Internet Reporting Hotline (web547), launched by ECPAT Taiwan in 1999 to ensure children’s online safety, last year received 135 reports of Web sites featuring child pornography operated by users in Taiwan, up from 33 cases in 2011, Lee said.
Some victims in the child pornography cases were featured in sexual abuse videos and were as young as three years old, Lee said.
Child pornography has been a major cause of sexual assault of young children and child sex trafficking, but the correlation has not been recognized in Taiwan, she added.
“The problem of online child pornography has long been ignored by the government as its efforts to combat online pornography focused more on adults than on children, which was a wrong approach to ensure child Internet safety,” she said.
A number of problems needed to be addressed in order to keep children safe on the Internet: The penalties given to these involved in the distribution of obscene material are too light, and the government does not have an agency dedicated specifically to tracing down and closing child pornography Web sites, Lee said.
In a speech delivered at the forum, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) acting director Brent Christensen encouraged Taiwan to develop a national strategy to fight the growing problem, saying that “laws that directly address the problem” should form the cornerstone of such an integrated strategy.
“If society does not have strong laws that deter would-be offenders from viewing child pornography, children already exploited in the production of these images become further victimized, as perpetrators can view the images with impunity,” he said.
Society should do everything possible to ensure that those who exploit children are quickly arrested, prosecuted, and sent to prison, Christensen said.
It is important that the law enforcement and justice sectors allocate funding specifically for the fight against child exploitation, while it is also urgent that law enforcement officials have access to the right tools, technology and training to track down tech-savvy criminals, he said.