A brief report on online child sexual abuse in Uganda

At the beginning of this month, a campaign was launched in Uganda to increase awareness about online child sexual abuse led by the International Watch Foundation with support from Facebook and MTN. The aim of this campaign is to create safer spaces for children online and reduce the rates of online child sexual abuse in Uganda.

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Online child sexual abuse is one of the most common problems on today’s internet which involves the circulation of images and videos displaying children being sexually abused. Most of these children are abducted while others are manipulated by strangers online and coerced into offering such content.

Online child sexual abuse in Uganda enabled through social media

A report by NBS tv shows that some children are approached through social media platforms like Facebook, an app that boasts over 2.79 billion users globally. Such a huge number of users increases the likelihood of children meeting malicious people online who will take advantage of them. There have been several reports of children being approached through Facebook by strangers who ask for sexual content in exchange for money.

Such reports have increased majorly because of the pandemic that saw many people around the world rely on the use of the internet for purposes like work and staying in contact with each other. The numbers of online child sexual abuse cases increased during this time with IWF analysts reporting 299,600 reports as of 2020.

With this new campaign in place, it creates hope for many and could see a transformation in how this vice can be eradicated in Uganda. Impacts of online child sexual abuse on victims are dire and can be long-term or short-term. Some of the long-term effects are on the mental health of survivors causing depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after surviving such terrible ordeals.

The UK-based International Charity, IWF has a hotline which has proven to be one of the most effective internationally for reporting online child sexual abuse cases. As part of the campaign to end online child sexual abuse in Uganda, there is a portal designed for reporting online child sexual abuse in Uganda known as www.stopit.ug. Through this portal, images and videos reported are assessed and taken down.

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