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This article is written by Akshita Jain who is pursuing a Certificate Course in Advanced Criminal Litigation & Trial Advocacy from LawSikho.


By pornography we generally mean the depiction of any content, whether printed or visual, that contains manifest narration, demonstration or display of sexual activities, sexual organs or any other obscene material with an intention to trigger the sexual excitement of the viewers. We call it child pornography when children are included in the said activity. Although, merely a prefix has been added to the term ‘pornography’ in this case, but this little prefix increases the dreadfulness of this term horrendously.

The words ‘child’ and ‘sexual activity’ together already sound so wicked, and then displaying it to people who are watching it to arouse their sexual desires only make it worse. Consequently, such deeds provoke the exploitation, trafficking and violence towards children. This is the reason that child pornography is considered so heinous.

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Now, the question is why such a horrible practice is being popular in today’s time? What are its effects? Have any legislative actions been taken against it? Does any law provide remedies for it? Has COVID-19 had any influence on its number? This article aims to focus on areas that the above-mentioned questions are dealing with.

Defining child pornography

In India, the term ‘child pornography’ has been defined under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO). According to section 2(da) of the POCSO Act, child pornography is any kind of visual display of overt sexual activity that engages a child. Such content may be an image, a video or any computer-generated picture which cannot easily be differentiated from a real child. It includes all those images which shows a child to be involved in such activities whether it is created, adapted or modified.

To be very specific, section 2(d) of the POCSO Act defines a ‘child’ to be any person who has not attained the age of eighteen years. 

On an international level, there is one Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (OPSC) that deals with the issue of child pornography. According to Article 2 of the OPSC, child pornography includes the depiction of a child involved in either real or simulated explicit sexual conduct as well as revealing of sexual body parts of a child mainly with sexual motives.

Reasons of increasing child pornography

There has been a rapid increase in the sharing of child porn over the years all around the world. In 1998, the total reported cases of child sexual abuse imagery were over three thousand and merely after a decade, it turned into more than one lakh cases. This number crossed one million for the first time in the year 2014. Later in 2018, the number of cases that were reported increased to 18.4 million which was found to be more than one-third of the total cases ever reported. In 2020, 21.7 million were reported which was estimated to be a 28% increase over 2019. The high demand of child porn can clearly be acknowledged from these horrific statistics, but the question is why is it so?

The reasons for high demand of child porn are different for different age groups. The primary viewers among the adolescents are those who are nearly 18 to 21 years of age and have sexual dysfunction which means they have difficulty in maintaining erections and achieving orgasms. On the other hand, many children or adolescents watch it merely to fulfil their curiosities or fantasies.

However, in case of older people, the majority of the persons watching child porn are either paedophiles or hebephiles or ephebophiles. These are the people attracted or sexually oriented or interested towards children or mid to late adolescents. It is surprising to know that in the view of many of them, it is their love towards those children. Other than these, there are also many sadists who just take pleasure in watching those children in pain while they are being molested.

All these rising demands of child porn from these people would be ineffective if there was no means to fulfil them in the first place. Here comes the role of the internet which has become the nucleus of sharing such materials making them more popular. The advancement of digital technology and internet expansion has contributed a lot in shooting up of the child pornography market. The videos are easily available, easily affordable and they even conceal the identity of the viewer, hence increasing the number of people watching the same.

Impact of child pornography

It is quite rare that sexual activity in child porn is consensual. So, if any image, video or any other content showing sexually explicit conduct involving a child is created, it is very likely that real sexual abuse or harassment was caused while making such material. Also, there are high possibilities that such abuse has been done more than just once. More the demand for child porn increases, more such content is created, and hence, more crimes against children increases.

This not only deteriorates the child victim’s mental and physical well-being, but also leaves a grave impact on society. When such an abuse or molestation is committed with a child, he/she goes through a huge trauma and it takes a lot to come out of it, but the act of pornography, i.e., posting or distributing that recording online aggravates the situation and makes it impossible for that child to move on ever. Fear, humiliation, helplessness, lack of confidence are some of the things that would follow that child forever because he/she knows that somewhere on the internet those pictures or videos are circulating.

Legislative provisions combating child pornography in India

Under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO)

The POCSO Act makes the act of using a child for pornographic purposes punishable. Now what all acts constitute to be usage of a child for pornographic purposes have been explained in section 13 of the Act. According to the said section, any person who uses a child for the purpose of sexual gratification through any kind of media either printed or electronic, no matter whether it was aimed for distribution or just personal use is said to have used the child for pornographic purposes. It includes the display of a child’s sexual organs, indecent representation of a child, and engaging a child in true or simulated sexual activity where penetration is not a mandatory condition.

Section 14 of the POCSO Act punishes any person committing an offence u/s 13 with an imprisonment for at least 5 years and fine. And if the person is convicted for the same offence again, then he would be punishable with imprisonment for a minimum of 7 years and fine. It further provides that if a person is committing the offence of using child for pornography along with offence given under sections 3 or 5 or 7 or 9 by getting himself involved in the pornographic act, then such a person shall be punished under section 4 or 6 or 8 or 10 respectively in addition to section 14 of the POCSO Act.

Furthermore, section 15 of the POCSO Act provides punishment for storing or possessing pornographic material that involves a child in three different situations. Firstly, if it has been done to share such material so as to commit child pornography then it is punishable with a minimum fine of Rs. 5000, and if such an act is repeated then with a fine not less than Rs. 10,000. Secondly, if such storage or possession has been done to display or distribute it, then the punishment is imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years, or with fine, or both.

However, the storage would be exempted from this offence if it was done for the purpose of reporting or using it as evidence in court. Lastly, if the said pornographic material is possessed with an intention to use it for commercial purposes, then the person would be punishable with imprisonment, the term of which would be between 3 years to 5 years, or fine, or both. And if the same is committed again, the punishment would be between 5 years to 7 years of imprisonment and fine.

Under the Indian Penal Code, 1860

The Indian Penal Code does not deal with child pornography directly, however, it prohibits the display of obscene material to young persons under section 293. In this context, a young person would be a person who is under 20 years of age. So, a person would be punishable u/s 293 of the Code if he/she shares, disperses, exhibits, sells or lets to hire any obscene material (as explained in section 292 IPC) to any young person. The offender would be punishable with an imprisonment up to 3 years and a fine of Rs. 2000 on first conviction, however, he would be punishable with an imprisonment up to 7 years and Rs. 5000 fine in case of second conviction. 

Under the Information Technology Act, 2000

Section 67B of the IT Act punishes the act of publishing, transmitting, creating, collecting, browsing, downloading, advertising, promoting, exchanging, distributing, recording, etc. of any material in electronic form which shows a sexually explicit activity engaging a child. It also punishes the formation of online relationships with any child for sexually explicit act and abusing the child online. The punishment provided u/s 67B is imprisonment of 5 years and ten lakh rupees fine on first conviction, and in case of second conviction, it is 7 years of imprisonment and fine of Rs. ten lakhs.

Effect of COVID lockdown on child pornogrphy market

The India Child Protection Fund (ICPF) report outed in April 2020 reported that there has been an escalation of 95% in consumption of child pornography material in India. This data has been cited from ‘Pornhub’, which is one of the biggest pornography websites all over the world.

In the period of lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19, almost all schools, colleges and offices were closed down. All the works and studies were being conducted online due to which the number of hours people spent on the internet increased to a large extent. There is no doubt that apart from the usage of the internet for academic purposes, children would get exposed to all the aspects of this advanced digital technology if they spend so much time on it. But while exploring the internet, these innocent children have no idea about the sexual predators who are roaming out there to hunt them. And the reason these people are targeting children is none other than the rising demand of child porn as we have already discussed.

In the lockdown period, all kinds of people including paedophiles, child molesters, child rapists, etc. spent their time browsing the internet way more than they usually do. It is evident from the fact that there has been a shoot up in searching of words such as ‘teen sex’, ‘sexy child’, etc. in this period according to the ICPF report. Such actions lead to the increase in demand of child sexual abuse content, and in order to fulfil the same the controllers of child pornography network go to any extent to provide updated material to their customers and fill their pockets with billions. This demand encourages the masters of pornography market to do child sexual abuse, child molestation, child trafficking, etc., hence, giving rise to more and more crimes.

Moreover, a recent Childline India Helpline’s report revealed that they had received more than ninety thousand calls regarding the request to protect children from abuse during the national lockdown. This fact clearly indicates that the risk of child abuse in this lockdown had been much higher and is expected to increase further.


The offence of child pornography is not just one offence, rather it is a series of offences and harsh consequences. It begins with the sexual abuse of child who probably don’t even understand as to what is happening with him, and even if he knows about it, that doesn’t make it any better. Then such abuse is recorded and distributed among certain horrible people who take intense pleasure in watching those children suffering in pain owing to their exploitation, which provokes them to do it themselves. This is how the desire to do such heinous acts evolves among people, and many of them even succeed to do it, hence more crimes.

A child is someone who is at the very beginning of his/her life and have many years to live ahead, however, when he/she becomes a victim of an offence as brutal as child pornography, it becomes very difficult for that child to live normally afterwards. Such an incident would leave a stigma in the mind of such a child forever.

It has also been found that in a significant number of cases of child sexual abuse, the children know their offenders, they might be relatives, family friends, teachers, etc. Such types of cases are even more disheartening because here the child would have trusted that person and would never have expected it to happen. What could be more disappointing than the fact that the children are not safe even in their own homes?

There is no doubt that government has taken various actions to combat this evil such as enactment of legislations like POCSO, IT Act which specifically deal with the issue of child pornography. The government has even banned the websites providing the said indecent stuff from time to time but we still see no drop in the statistics of child abuse. Looking at the present scenario, it is obvious that more and more actions would be taken by the government against this issue, but can anything be done to help with this matter at an individual level?

One of the major problems in such crimes is that they get unnoticed because they are not talked about. So maybe, it is high time that we start talking about it, make our children aware about the things that they might come across with, and when they do they come to talk to us without any hesitation. It is very important to provide proper sex education to each and every individual so that they do not get incomplete learning from outside and move towards some foolish path.


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