Posted at 7:32am Sunday 12th May, 2013
Address to women judges association
"Address to International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) Regional Conference Asia Pacific Region, Auckland
Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today. It’s great to be here.
The International Association of Women Judges is an association of great ability, accomplishment and potential.
It’s a great privilege to be a part of your conference for the Asia Pacific Region.
Building on what today’s keynote speakers have covered in terms of pornography and child exploitation I will talk specifically about the sexual abuse of children online and New Zealand’s commitment to combatting this abhorrent crime through our membership to the Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online.
It’s a sad fact that the majority of sexual abuse goes by unreported.
Last year alone, Child Youth and Family found 1355 children under the age of 17 were sexually abused in New Zealand.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates there are more than 4 million websites featuring victims who are children – some even including children younger than 2 years old.
While accurate statistics for this problem are hard to come by, one thing is certain – the digital age has drastically increased ways offenders access, disseminate and sell this criminal material.
The advancements of the 21st century mean people are living longer, healthier, more secure and productive lives. Individuals and communities also have more opportunities than ever before to engage, communicate and share information.
With these benefits comes responsibility – responsibility to use modern technology appropriately. Unfortunately these benefits are all too frequently misused and abused.
Offending is no longer confined to a small, local, face-to-face community. Offenders are operating across communities, across cities, and across borders.
The internet age has seen the gross proliferation of child pornography published online or streamed live for online viewers – some is, chillingly even ‘personalised’ or ‘made-to-order’ for serial consumers.
Best estimates by the United Nations are that thousands of new photographs and videos are uploaded on to the Internet every week, and hundreds of thousands of searches for images of sexual exploitation of children are carried out every day.
Offenders can now possess and easily distribute collections of more than a million images of sexually exploited children. The sending, retrieval and storage of an almost infinite quantity of data operate at speeds and costs unimaginable only a decade ago.
But, thanks to the commitment and efforts of skilled and caring professionals in the public and private sectors, measures to combat child pornography have been put in place – through legislative reform, by dismantling child pornography networks, blocking internet sites, seizing harmful material and awareness-raising campaigns.
However despite these many and varied initiatives, child pornography remains an ever increasing global phenomenon.
It has become a very profitable business with a worldwide market value estimated at up to $20 billion dollars. Evidence shows the content of the publications is getting worse and that the children are getting younger.
In 2007, the UK’s Internet Watch Foundation identified a rise in the number of websites depicting the most extreme and brutal forms of abuse. Observations made by the New Zealand Chief Censor, Deputy Chief Censor and New Zealand enforcement agencies support this trend.
The UN Special Rapporteur has reported that images of child sexual exploitation and the sharing of those images compound the consequences of child abuse and affect victims’ recovery.
Images are often replicated and further distributed across the internet, ensuring the images endure in the cyber-sphere for the lifetime of the victim and beyond.
Victims can feel re-victimised by the knowledge that an image of them remains available to be viewed and shared.
Many abusers manipulate and force their victim to pretend that they are enjoying the experience.
Networks for the exchange of child pornography display photographs in which the children have been forced to smile in order to prove that they “are having fun” and to make being sexually attracted to children seem legitimate and normal."
Hon Judith Collins