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Home of rampant paedophilia

If a battle against paedophilia has to be waged, the Internet should be a first frontier, write Mayank Tewari and Shreevatsa Nevatia.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2007 17:38 IST

A simple search on the World Wide Web proves that Moninder Singh Pandher represents only the tip of a dangerously debauched iceberg.

A website that is hosted on an Amsterdam server has posted on it the 'personals' of over 100 men from in and around Ghaziabad; all of them make public their penchant for young boys.

Another Dutch online magazine (e-zine) promises to deliver to your mailbox 'erotic' pictures of pre-pubescent Indian children.

More than these portals themselves, what is even more worrying is the complete lack of any effective law that can bring such monstrous violators to book.

According to a recent study by the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, Indian laws do not criminalise or even legally define child pornography.

The report also found that there is no detailed mechanism in place, which requires Indian Internet Service Providers to report suspected child pornography to law enforcers.

So even if the laptop seized from Moninder's Noida residence throws up evidence of him being part of an international child pornography racket, he could only be tried for what he is shown doing in the photographs, not for specifically being in possession of them.

Moreover, if there were effective Internet laws in place, it would have perhaps been possible to nab the accused before he committed his vile crimes in the physical space.

It is probable that Moninder would visit chatrooms and some specific social networking communities, which are infested with suspected paedophiles who often use the word kumar or kumari in their anonymous IDs. While these virtual spaces give violators such as Pandher the unchecked opportunity to prey, they also give them the opportunity to interact with fellow criminals and share images and text.

In nations such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, lawmakers have had to wisen up to the fact that chatrooms and social networking sites such as Orkut are a ready playground for all paedophiles insistent upon spreading menace. They have each passed laws that make punishable even the smallest of online transgressions.

Indian paedophiles, on the other hand, find that the Internet is their safest haven. Some even go online and boast of deals struck with adoption centres and child-specific NGOs. The scariest claim came from one who said, "Come to India for a week and find the child love of your life." If a battle against paedophilia has to be waged, it is clear that the Internet should be a first frontier.

Email authors: mayank.tewari@hindustantimes.com 
                    shreevatsa@hindustantimes.com