A section of Bangladeshi netizens are found addicted to sharing and storing in cyberspace child sexual abuse materials as well as blackmailing and cyber bullying young girls using those contents.
Bangladesh has been identified as one of the most vulnerable countries for the development and circulation of child sex abuse materials by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, an organisation based in the United States of America.
Child pornography has emerged as a new menace as over 5.5 lakh child pornography contents were shared, downloaded, stored, used in cyber bullying and blackmailing in Bangladeshi cyberspace in 2019, showed the recent data of the NCMEC.
The statistics puts Bangladesh fifth in the vulnerability list only next to India, Pakistan, Algeria and Iraq.
The Criminal Investigation Department of police special police superintendent Ashraful Alam said that some of the contents viewed, shared and stored originated from Bangladesh.
A CID officer said that they have traced some child sexual abuse materials which were recorded in Bangladesh and shared in social media platforms like Facebook messenger and WhatsApp and stored in Google Drive.
The cybercrime prevention department of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit at the Dhaka Metropolitan Police has detected cartels involved in child pornography and arrested four youths in the last two and a half months. The arrested have been involved luring teenage girls into their trap for getting their sexually provocative materials.
CTTC’s cybercrime unit on 15 October arrested three private university students in Dhaka for their involvement in child pornography.
They were using false identities to develop communication and relationship with children, teenage girls and adult women at home and abroad amassing personal photographs and videos for circulation on various websites and social media, said CTTC cybercrime unit additional deputy commissioner Najmul Islam.
The trio was arrested based on complaints from two teenage girls from the USA.
Police also recovered over 3,000 offensive photos and videos of 45 minors, some sex toys and a manual on how to convince girls to share nude content.
Of the girls who have fallen victim to these accused, three are from Bangladesh, while the rest are from the USA, United Kingdom and Australia.
The three students had collected the young girls’ personal photographs and videos and posted these on an Instagram group, said investigators.
Najmul said that they receive 15-20 complaints a day in which most of the victims are girls belonging to the age group 14-22 and some of them are victims of child sexual abuse materials.
He said that some youths develop romantic relations with teenage girls on social media and lure them to share intimate and explicit images and videos and then start blackmailing and harassing the young girls.
In another recent development, the CTTC arrested a 28-year-old youth on December 29 for allegedly videoing pornographic materials of an Indian teenage girl.
The youth had been in virtual communication with the teenage girl and collected her intimate images and videos and then threatened her to make those public if she does not pay 2.5 lakh Indian rupees.
Law enforcing officials said that cybercrime and child pornography from Bangladesh are now a cross-border crime as some youths are even involved in international rackets.
CTTC’s officials said that they traced the presence of some Bangladeshis in many active child pornography groups.
The CID was able to detect many child abuse contents shared online through the NCMEC.
The NCMEC has informed CID of several thousand pornography contents already. Of these, 15,618 were on Facebook, 325 on Instagram and the remaining 511 on Google, WhatsApp and other platforms, said CID additional superintendent of police Mahmudul Islam Talukdar.
He said that the contents are shared and stored on social media.
‘NCMEC will provide us training to get access to all necessary information, including the perpetrators’ cell phone numbers, IP address, ISP, Google account, names and types of devices, and even the longitude and latitude of the places from where the contents were uploaded on the internet.
Mahmudul told New Age that from the information received so far, they are certain that most of the contents were shared and stored, but some content seemed to have been made in Bangladesh, using children in sexually explicit scenes.
Save The Children Bangladesh chapter’s director for Child Protection and Child Rights Governance Abdullah Al Mamun said that due to effortless digital access and the absence of monitoring, adult and teenagers are getting addicted to child pornography.
Family monitoring, vigilance on ‘dark web’ and accommodating digital literacy in study materials at educational institutions are essential, he said.
He said that a survey by Manusher Jonno Foundation revealed that about 77 per cent of school-going children in Dhaka city are either regularly watching or have watched pornographic materials.
Child rights activists viewed that the law enforcement agencies in the country need to develop competencies and infrastructure to investigate child pornography cases.
For instance, Interpol in 2005 had also informed the CID that there was evidence that child pornography materials were being made in Bangladesh for sending abroad, but the issue remained unaddressed.
The CID had arrested three persons including Tipu Kibria, a writer of children’s literature and photographer, for producing child pornography materials after being tipped-off by the international police body.
Tipu, however, was acquitted in the case recently due to weakness in the investigation, said CID officials.
Child rights activists stressed on collaboration between Bangladeshi agencies and international organisation since it is a transnational crime.
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