We need to rethink the language we use when discussing child abuse

20th August 2013 - Deirdre Clune MEP

A 28-year-old Irishman been kept in custody by the High Court since last week. He is accused of being involved in the distribution of online child abuse material on an extremely large scale. The US authorities are seeking the extradition of the man in question who was described by an FBI special agent as “the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet”

This horrendous case has been covered across the Irish media in recent days, it is important to inform the public on this issue.

However Michael Moran of Interpol has highlighted the use of the term ‘child pornography’ as inappropriate.

I strongly agree with this point because in my view, the term ‘pornography’ implies consent.

Interpol states that child exploitation material or child abuse material is the preferred and more accurate term.

In recent weeks, a lot of attention has been focussed on the issue of banning online pornography in response to the move in Britain by David Cameron to filer certain pornography websites.

The issue of filters is not relevant to tackling child abuse material (CAM). CAM is a far more advanced and complicated system than the initiative which Britain is to implement.

David Cameron did address the issue of child abuse material however this received little coverage in comparison. I myself sought a debate on this matter in the Seanad recently.
During the debate I was informed that The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter had the opportunity recently to raise the need for enhanced international cooperation in tackling the dissemination of child abuse material.

The EU and the USA have initiated a global alliance against child sexual abuse on-line and this initiative is expected to develop quickly in the coming years.

The establishment of a structured arrangement for the blocking of access to websites containing child pornography are at an advanced stage.

The arrangement that is being discussed will entail close collaboration between the Garda and Internet service providers, who will co operate if offending material is found.

The Garda will have the benefit of its links with other police forces and the international policing organisations such as Interpol and Europol in seeking out and identifying sites which circulate these dangerous and horrifying images.

This level of enhanced co-operation on an international basis is needed to combat a sinister and vile abuse of innocent children.

I am glad that the Minister used the opportunity of Ireland’s recent presidency of the EU to further advance the fight against this crime.

In Ireland hotline.ie provides an invaluable service which already provides for the removal of illegal material, the organisation has been successful in battling this worrying trend

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