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IWF sets sights on tackling online child sexual abuse in three new countries to mark 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

UK-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is announcing a “special” push across the world to drive child sexual abuse imagery off the web.

Three children running

A UK charity is leading the fight to eradicate online child sexual abuse across the world as new tools to help people report abuse anonymously are rolled out in three countries. 

The IWF, a Cambridgeshire-based charity which works to remove child sexual abuse material from the internet, is taking the “special” step of launching new reporting portals in three different countries.

The portals, set up with funding from the Global Fund to End Violence Against Children, help people securely and anonymously flag up images of child sexual abuse on the internet.

Today (November 20) is the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). To celebrate this, The Gambia, Senegal and Sierra Leone are preparing to launch an IWF reporting portal. 

Once websites with child sexual abuse material are reported anonymously to the IWF in Cambridge, the images will be assessed by trained analysts and removed from the internet.

Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO said: “Children are being abused all over the world. The scale of the problem is global, and our response to it has to be too.

“Working with local partners and helping provide these safe spaces is the first step in the fight to protect children. 

“I am so pleased we can take this step and launch three new portals in time for the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

“Our analysts are really leading the way and, with the help of partners on the ground, we can make a real difference.”

International Development Manager Valentina Picco has worked with local partners on the ground in Gambia, Senegal and Sierra Leone to help set up the portals. 

She said the portals are essential tools to fight online child sexual abuse because, in some countries, people do not feel they can report images or videos to the police. 

Ms Picco said: “It is very difficult for people to find the courage to report to the police, and the fact that through the portal they can do it anonymously can be very helpful. Violence against children can be taboo.”

She added: “Launching three at the same time is quite a special thing. 

“I would say portal projects are generally very well received. Every time we launch a new tool to fight against violence they are well received. 

“It is our dearest hope that the reports from Portals will lead to children being removed from further abuse and being safeguarded.”

Ms Hargreaves added: “Removing just one image or video of child sexual abuse could make all the difference. I want everyone, wherever they are in the world, to have somewhere they can turn to to help get child sexual abuse imagery eradicated from the internet.” 

A Portal also helps achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals 16.2, which specifically targets tackling child sexual abuse and enables national governments to fulfil part of the WePROTECT Model National Response. 

This is a global benchmark for all countries to take responsibility for protecting children online. 
The IWF has already helped establish such platforms in 27 countries – working with national governments, NGOs, local law enforcement partners, and regional telecoms networks to widen the battle against child sexual exploitation and abuse on the web.

Find out more about our Reporting Portals here

Report here