ISLAMABAD: A roundtable brought together different stakeholders to discuss the nature of child sexual abuse problem in Pakistan.

The event also marked the soft launch of online child sexual abuse portal aimed at reporting and removing online content.

Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) organised the roundtable in collaboration with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

The roundtable titled ‘Online Child Sexual Abuse in Pakistan: Solutions and Call to Action’ on Friday started off with an introduction of the laws governing online child sexual abuse and pornography as well the online trends.

DRF shared its experiences of dealing with cases of minors facing online abuse and harassment.

Valentina Picco, the International Development Manager at IWF, spoke extensively about the mechanisms available at the national and international level to tackle online child abuse and the work IWF is doing in the field.

IWF is an independent not-for-profit, self-regulatory body independent of government and law enforcement in the UK working to eradicate online images of child sexual abuse.

It is the founding member of the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE) and has active online child sexual abuse portals in 27 countries, including India and Nepal, and is set to launch its portal in Pakistan after consultations with local partners today.

The portal, to be available in English and Urdu, will seek to replicate the success of IWF in the UK where the country hosted 18pc of the known online child sexual abuse material in 1996 and just 0.2pc in 2019.

Nighat Dad, the executive director of Digial Rights Foundation, said she looked forward to the portal forming a bridge between child rights organisations working in Pakistan, law enforcement agencies and international reporting mechanisms.

“Online child exploitation and abuse has been treated as a moral panic for a long time, however very little headway has been made by way of tangible efforts to understand and tackle this issue,” she said.

The portal will work with law enforcement, industry partners, DRF and its internet content analysts to identify, assess, report, seek removal and ‘hash’ criminal child sexual abuse imagery.

It will also proactively search for child sexual abuse images and videos hosted in Pakistan and beyond. The portal is scheduled to be officially launched on the Digital Rights Foundation website this summer.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2019