When you think of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), one of the first things that come to mind is trafficking.
But did you know that trafficking children into flesh trade is only a small proportion of what constitutes CSEC?
Like many sensitive issues, media reports are often the first and only places we learn about CSEC from. And like popular perception, the media too tends to focus on trafficking and busts by law enforcement agencies. And to highlight how much bigger the issue is, Change.org, along with The News Minute, is hosting a workshop for journalists on Wednesday in Bengaluru. The workshops will also be held in Hyderabad and Vijayawada.
The agenda for the workshop includes an introduction to the issue, audio-visual presentations, CSEC resources and sensitivity training for journalists, and interaction with a survivor, among other things.
The workshop will feature domain experts who will be familiariasing attendees with the nuances and policies around CSEC as well as reporting on the same. Trafficking and migration issues researcher Roop Sen, who is also the founding member of Sanjog, a NGO working to strengthen and implement anti-trafficking laws and welfare schemes; and Anuradha Nagaraj, the trafficking and slavery correspondent for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, will be holding the workshops.
Roop Sen pointed out that at present, media reports, including investigative pieces, majorly focus CSEC with respect to human trafficking based on raids and busts by law enforcement agencies.
“Take the example of children who work as masseurs on Mumbai's beaches and even attend house calls. They are also sexually exploited, but there is no trafficking involved,” he notes, “Much of the business in commercial sexual exploitation has moved online, what with access to social media and the dark web. For instance, young girls being blackmailed and forced into flesh trade by men or their ‘boyfriends’.”
Investigating organized crime such as trafficking, and the larger issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children is something which requires time as well as resources, and working closely with law enforcement authorities. “That is why perhaps journalists with tight deadlines do not venture further into the issue,” Roop says.
The issue has been gaining traction on Change.org as well. “Two petitions on Change.org talking about commercial sexual exploitation of children have become very popular in the past few months. Over 2,00,000 people supported them, and the media showed significant interest in covering the massive public support to end this crucial child rights violation,” shares Durga Nandini, Communications Officer at Change.org.
“As a step further on engaging with the media, Change.org, The News Minute and Changemantras have come together to share expert learnings with journalists in an attempt to increase the salience on the issue," she added.
Dhanya Rajendran, Editor-in-chief of The News Minute emphasised on importance of media to work with civil society organisations to combat CSEC. “Apart from increasing our reportage on our platform, we are happy to help Change.org in the larger mandate of producing high quality journalism in the mainstream media. We hope that all the journalists participating in the event will benefit from the workshop and will materialise in the increased reportage,” she said.