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Namibia confronts rising online child sexual exploitation

Written by on May 23, 2024

In Africa, about a fifth of children under the age of 17 have experienced unsolicited requests to talk about sex online.

This was revealed by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) and Child Fund in a report titled ‘Shocking Rise Across Africa in Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse’ earlier this week.

The forum’s executive director, Joan Nyanyuki, says the problem is sharply on the rise in Africa.

Evidence shows Africa may be the new frontier for online sexual predators.

Furthermore, it indicated that a survey has indicated that more than 60% of unidentified victims were young children, including infants and toddlers, of which 65% were girls.

Current legislation and policies are “woefully inadequate”, the report states.

As of 2021, 30 African countries did not have laws or policies on cybersecurity, and many did not even have draft policies.

Ministry of Information and Communication Technology spokesperson Shoki Kandjimi says the ministry is currently working on a cybercrime bill, which intends to criminalise acts committed in the digital environment, including those against children.

“The government has further developed the cybersecurity strategy and awareness-raising plan, which aim to sensitise citizens to the dangers of cybercrime and the importance of cybersecurity,” he says.

He says a portal for reporting child sexual abuse material has been launched in Namibia through a partnership between the government, the Internet Watch Foundation, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and ChildLine/Lifeline.

“This portal allows anyone to anonymously report digital abusive materials affecting children with the view of combating cybercrime towards them. Once found offensive, the material is taken down from online platforms,” he says.

Earlier this month, the Namibian delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner included minister of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare Doreen Sioka.

Doreen Sioka

The minister indicated that 9% of children were reportedly victims of online sexual abuse in Namibia, with 20 000 being attacked or assaulted online.

The Namibian delegation consisted of representatives from the gender ministry, the Ministry of Justice, and representatives and other staff of Namibia’s permanent mission to the United Nations office in Geneva.

The experts of the Committee on the Rights of the Child commended the children’s parliament and asked the delegation about measures in place to address baby dumping and the online sexual abuse of children in Namibia.

She said the cybercrime bill is at an advanced stage and will soon be tabled in parliament.

Sioka, executive director of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare Martha Mbombo and ministry spokesperson Lukas Haufiku did not comment on the matter at the time of going to print.

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