NAIROBI,Kenya, Apr 12 – A study conducted by a Dutch child rights organization operating in Kenya and the East African region has established that there is increased online child sexual exploitation.
This emerged when the organization unveiled a report highlighting the increase of online child sexual exploitation in the country particularly Nairobi and Mombasa.
Angela Nyamu the country manager says increased mobile phone penetration and Internet access have given rise to a set of conditions that have made children more vulnerable to online exploitation.
“Platforms and channels such as chat rooms, dating websites, social media such as Facebook and Whatsapp, mobile phones Internet access and peer-to-peer networks allow adults to more easily contact and solicit boys and girls, especially those most vulnerable such as children not well supervised by guardians,” she said.
The research also revealed that children are uniquely positioned to benefit from digital advances but there should be a clear enforceable regulatory framework governing their online operations.
Their natural curiosity in new technologies also means that young people often lead the way in the uptake of ICT ahead of adults with youth being the most connected age group worldwide at 71 per cent.
Cybercafes offer access to public chat rooms, social media, video chatting and other file-sharing software. Some cybercafes in Kenya provide private back rooms where their customers can enjoy greater privacy. These private back rooms are not restricted and anyone, including children, can enter as long as they could afford to pay.
A study conducted in Kenya, Cameroon, Gambia, Togo and Uganda shows that 54 per cent of children had someone of their age in pornographic materials online and about 10 per cent of children had been approached by online contacts to share sexualized images.
According to the FBI there are a total of 750,000 individuals looking to connect with children across the globe for sexual purposes online at any moment.
“Now its time for government, civil society organisations and other stakeholders to come together and work proactively against Online Child Sexual Exploitation so that their actions can be preventive rather than reactive,” said Nyamu.