Bahrain role 'key in child porn war'
Manama, May 11, 2009
Bahrain has been urged to help fight a global war on paedophiles by introducing tougher laws to protect children from abuse.
UN special rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography Najat Majid Maala called on governments around the world to strengthen their commitment to combating sexual crimes against young people, including those carried out online.
She also wants countries to ensure that legislation is supported by adequate implementation structures and child protection systems.
'We need very strong legislation including the global definition of child pornography, including Internet images,' Maala told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News.
'Policemen need to be very well trained in this issue and judges need to be very aware.'
Maala said police departments must co-operate with each other at the national, regional and global levels because child abuse is a trans-national issue.
'Co-operation is very difficult for police. You need to recognise the children that are being abused and it is very difficult to localise the sex offender,' she said.
'But by co-operating you can exchange information and best practices.
'Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and mobile phone operators need to be involved in blocking and filtering Internet sites and images but with this you face the challenges of the freedom of users and complying with the law.'
'At the international level you need to have co-operation with ISPs, they may have many good practices at the local level but they need to share these because we are fighting an international market.'
Maala encouraged the UN to make governments clearly aware of the issue of child abuse and pressure them to create legislation and implementation systems.
She said in order to protect children from abuse each country needed to have well structured child protection systems that were easily accessible by young people.
These should also take an integrated approach that would allow them to detect abused children as well as provide medical, social, psychological and legal support and rehabilitation.
'Efficient legislation involves criminalising sexual abuses, but also protecting children,' said Maala.
'Children up to the age of 18 needed to be considered as victims and not as guilty.'
Maala said tackling child abuse was not only about introducing laws and systems but changing mindsets.
She said perceptions and behaviours took time to change and it required a well thought out ongoing anti-child abuse campaign that raised awareness among children, parents, the community and policymakers.
'The population, family and child need to be aware of legislation governing child abuse and have access to a complaint mechanism,' said Maala.
'Children need to be involved in the campaign and their capacity to protect themselves needs to be strengthened.
'We must focus on children that are very vulnerable such as orphans and those coming from dysfunctional families.
'We need to encourage parents to discuss sexual matters with their children and schools need to be involved by teaching them how to protect themselves on the Internet.'
Maala said children should not be prevented from using the Internet because it was an important educational and networking tool, but needed more protection.
'Parents need to be more aware of technology and how to use it so they can have a dialogue with their children and implement Internet blocking systems,' she said.
Maala called upon nations to invest in good database monitoring system that could record child abuse cases and be used for evaluation.
She also highlighted the role of the media in combating child abuse. 'Media can also help to unlock the taboo and c