The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a nonprofit organization working to combat online child sexual abuse, has released a report last month showing that the European Union (EU) still remains the highest in hosting online child sexual abuse materials since 2020.
According to the IWF report, the EU has 59 percent of the materials (images and videos) featuring underage children engaged in sexual activity of any forms; therefore, Europe remains a global hub for online child sexual abuse through various internet pornography. As the IWF’s website stated:
“Most of the reports (32%) were tracked to servers in the Netherlands, a reduction from 41% in 2021. Slovakia had the second highest number of reports in the EU, with hosting figures of 12%.”
In 2022, IWF also discovered more severe kinds of online child sexual abuse materials, labeled as Category A, which includes videos and images from commercial webpages. Thanks to the organization, the discovery, which shows that online child sexual abuse has doubled since 2020, has pushed more companies to pledge on combatting internet child pornography. IWF’s effort has helped many agencies that are also working to end or minimized online sex exploitation on children and minors.
Category A can include the most horrific acts or images such as “rape of children, babies, and even newborns, as well as acts including bestiality, or sadism”. Fighting hard against child pornography, the IWF has removed 255,571 internet child sexual abuse imagery in 2022, of which 150,419 were proven to be originating from European Union member states. This has been one of the most effective efforts of IWF in cracking down child sexual abuse materials in the internet, using proactive legal approaches.
In many discoveries, webpages and URLs contain images of child sexual molestation and abuse by the thousands. Images that the IWF helped deleted from online spaces, which equates to millions in total, show children being tortured and raped. The suffering of these children being abused are unimaginable; sold, shared, and re-uploaded.
The perpetrators of these crimes profit from the exploitation in a very sinister way. In 2020, the IWF discovered 12,900 commercial websites that are focusing mainly on the sexual abuse of young children. And last year IWF reports showed it rose to a more than double in numbers, identifying 28,933 commercial webpages. According to the Chief Executive of the IWF, Susie Hargreaves OBE:
“I don’t think I can overstate the harm being done here. These are real children, and the suffering inflicted on them is unimaginable. They are being raped, and subjected to sexual torture, and criminals are making money off the back of that. It is truly appalling.”