Will the government ever shut down PornHub?

During the crisis, the police are fighting the increase in child sexual abuse

The corona crisis is leading to an increase in cyber crime - children are also affected by this development. Pedophiles are increasingly seeking online contact with their victims.

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, porn sites have become more popular. Pornhub, for example, saw a seven percent increase in access rate. The US company used the crisis for its own PR and offered the people in Italy free premium access.

Sex on the Internet in times of the Corona crisis has its darkest downsides. As reported by the European Police Office (Europol) «Bluewin», there has also been an increase in the sexual abuse of children on the Internet since the beginning of the pandemic crisis.

Europol spokeswoman Ina Mihaylova said several indicators pointed to this: "Different countries have reported that there have been a higher number of attempts to access illegal websites that have blocked child sexual abuse material in their filters."

Some countries would also report an increase in complaints from the public about material available online that portrayed child sexual abuse. "The perpetrators obtain such material via peer-to-peer sharing networks," says Mihaylova. In some countries, an increase in such downloads was noted.

Exploiting vulnerability

Europol notes that perpetrators used the Corona crisis to increasingly trade in child pornographic material, as Mihaylova further explains. In addition: "In some countries, adult offenders are increasingly trying to contact children via social media."

The perpetrators are aware of the potential vulnerability of children who spend more time online due to the Corona crisis. According to Mihaylova, Europal discovered conversations between pedophiles and children in forums on the Darknet.

A unit within Europol's European Center for Cybercrime (EC3) actively supports the member states in tracking down perpetrators, identifying the victims and bringing them to safety. Prevention, which is coordinated by Europol, is currently being promoted. Europol also coordinates relevant campaigns. "So that the children are made aware of the potential dangers of the Internet and so that they can be given advice on how to protect themselves from the malicious criminals who abuse cyberspace," says Mihaylova.

And in Switzerland?

“Bluewin” wanted to know what the current situation is like in Switzerland. The Federal Police Office Fedpol said that it was currently too early to be able to make general statements about the influence of the coronavirus on the distribution and consumption of child pornographic material.

The Zurich canton police wrote in a message that cyber phenomena related to Covid-19 are increasing - such as fraudulent emails, fraudulent appeals for donations or fake shops for medical products - the Zurich canton police are playing a leading role in the fight against cybercrime in Switzerland .

At the same time, media spokeswoman Carmen Surber explains in an email to "Bluewin": "We are not seeing any actual increase in digital crimes, but rather an adjustment to the current situation." By this she means criminal offenses related to fraud, phishing and malware.

Surber does not answer questions about the distribution and consumption of child pornographic material. All she says is: “We are currently not seeing any particular development in crime. We do not have separate statistics. "



Questions about the cooperation with Europol and the measures taken by the Zurich canton police to combat child pornography also remain unanswered.

Martin Steiger, lawyer and member of the Swiss Digital Society, says that although no reliable figures are available on the consumption and distribution of prohibited pornography, tendencies can nonetheless be identified. "Because the consumption of non-prohibited pornography is increasing, it can be assumed that the consumption of prohibited pornography will also increase."

In contrast to many other countries, in Switzerland pornographic content with animals and depictions of violence also fell into the category of prohibited content as depictions depicting children. "It is often the case that such content can be found not only on the Darknet, but also on conventional porn sites," says Steiger.

Perpetrators take advantage of the situation

Steiger gives an example: "If someone with a tendency towards Sado-Maso searches for such content on international porn sites, they quickly come across depictions of violence that may be banned in Switzerland." Regarding the increase in child pornographic material, Steiger says: "Since people with such a tendency now have more time to search for and consume relevant content, it is obvious that more such material will be viewed."

To person

Martin Steiger is a lawyer and member of the Swiss Digital Society

In addition, children can be more vulnerable in the Corona crisis because they cannot go to school or the club, for example. «Perpetrators try to stalk children. You can now take advantage of the panademie situation in a targeted manner by taking advantage of the increased vulnerability of the children. "They establish contact in chats and gradually try to gain the children's trust in order to get the material they want."

Active police investigations are required here to catch such perpetrators. Steiger roughly divides them into two groups: those who actively procure child pornographic material and those who would consume it. The latter are difficult to find.

"Often these are exposed because they are noticed by other criminal offenses - such as hacking or IT crimes," says Steiger. Prohibited pornography is then found by accident during a house search.

The situation is somewhat different in Canada and the USA. "Internet providers there are obliged to search user content for prohibited content," says Steiger. For example, prohibited pornography among Swiss users would also be discovered again and again during unencrypted conversations via instant messengers or through the use of cloud services.

Switzerland often benefits from these countries in the fight against illegal pornography on the Internet. "Because this gives the authorities numerous indications of criminal offenses."

Serious suffering for children

Nonetheless, the number of unreported cases of sexual abuse of children remains high, says Lilian Schaad, advisor at the Castagna office, the advice and information center for sexually exploited children, adolescents and women and men exploited in childhood.

The specialist unit is concerned about the increase in the dissemination and consumption of child pornographic material described by Europol, said Schaad. The sexual exploitation of children results in severe psychological and physical suffering.

“The child is traumatized on various levels,” says Schaad. On the one hand through the sexual exploitation itself, on the other hand through the filming of the abuse and furthermore through the uploading of the material on the Internet that is “totally shameful and massively damaging to the integrity of the child” for the child.

According to Schaad, the child can suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, an anxiety disorder, self-harming behavior, sexual restrictions, sleep disorders - there are also difficulties in social relationships.

Dissociative disorders such as great confusion and concentration problems could also result from sexual exploitation. "Imposing images put a strain on the child because a victim can be reminded of the abuse again and again through certain stimuli and thus relived it," says Schaad. Sexual abuse is difficult for a child to deal with. "Because it was exposed to a strong impotence and helplessness and often had to endure fear of death," says Schaad.

The fact that child pornography images are posted on the Internet reinforces these feelings that the child can feel long after the sexual exploitation. "Because a child will never know with certainty whether this content will ever be deleted or whether it will continue to be copied in an uncontrolled manner and used by strangers for satisfaction," says Schaad.

A child who had to go through such a traumatic event needs two things above all, according to the consultant at the Castagna department: safety and protection. “That means first and foremost that a child is protected from possible further attacks. A child must be offered a stable environment with reliable caregivers, and contact with the perpetrator must no longer exist, ”says Schaad. The child is supported in processing, if they are "protected as possible from the memory of the abuse," says Schaad.

“The child must be protected from the memory of the abuse,” says Schaad. It is therefore important that the child is not forced to talk about the crime if he does not want to. "The needs and statements of the child must be taken seriously and the child must be enabled to find their way back to normal."



“This goes hand in hand with the fact that discussions about sexual exploitation should not be held in front of the child and that the child does not have to talk about it all the time,” says Schaad.

It is quite normal for children to react with uncertainty or fear after they have experienced sexual assault. "By understanding caregivers, offering orientation and security, but not reducing it to what has been experienced, the child is supported to feel safe again and to process what has happened," says Schaad. It is therefore essential that the child is not constantly made to feel like a victim.

Specialized therapy provides additional support for the child and is particularly indicated if the child's behavior changes significantly or does not normalize for a few months.

Ultimately, it is important that a complaint or a confrontation of the perpetrators should not take place without advice from professional help, according to Schaad.

If a child reports sexual assault, it is important not to doubt the statements. “Together, parents or specialists can clarify what the child needs now and whether and what further steps, such as initiating criminal prosecution, can be taken in a conversation with a counseling center,” says Schaad.

Children wouldn't talk until they couldn't take it anymore. "Others cannot articulate themselves appropriately because of their age."

"There are children who behave conspicuously, but nobody knows why," says Schaad. This is not only a challenge for the caregivers of the child, but also for the law enforcement authorities.

"In any case, it is incredibly difficult to solve crimes in connection with the sexual exploitation of children, because the perpetrators have an extremely high interest in ensuring that no one finds out," said Schaad.

When it comes to sexual abuse of
Children and the production of child pornographic material, the perpetrators usually act in an organized and planned manner. "In such structures, children are often repeatedly affected by sexual abuse," says Schaad. This is all the more devastating for the children's psyche.


Hope in gloomy days - these are the best press photos of the year:

World Press Photo 2020: These are the best press photos of the year

This picture by Yasuyoshi Chiba won the World Press Photo Award as the best press photo of the year: The picture, taken on June 19, 2019 in Sudan's capital Khartoum, shows a young man reciting a poem surrounded by other demonstrators.

Image: Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP / World Press Photo 2020

With the best long-term project “Kho, the emergence of a revolt”, the French photographer Romain Laurendeau shows the deep discomfort of the youth in Algeria.

Image: Romain Laurendeau / World Press Photo 2020

At the end of a weapons fair in Abu Dhabi, a businessman locks two grenade launchers away: Nikita Teryoshin's photo won the main prize in the “Contemporary Subjects - Single Image” category.

Image: Nikita Teryoshin / World Press Photo 2020

Lorenzo Tugnoli was honored for the best photo reportage in the “Contemporary Topics” category: In “The Longest War”, the Italian accompanied the renewed advance of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Image: Lorenzo Tugnoli / Contrasto / The Washington Post / World Press Photo 2020

The Dane Nicolas Asfouri won the main prize in the “News Reportage” category.

Image: Nicolas Asfouri / AFP / World Press Photo 2020

Asfouri photographed the anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

Image: Nicolas Asfouri / AFP / World Press Photo 2020

The best photo in the “Environment” category was taken by Esther Horvarth, who observed two polar bears playing with scientific equipment from the research vessel Polarstern in the Arctic.

Image: Esther Horvath / The New York Times / World Press Photo 2020

Luca Locatelli won first prize in the “Environmental Report” category. For his series “The End of Trash - Circular Economy Solutions” he photographed sustainable environmental projects, such as the Amager Bakke waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen.

Image: Luca Locatelli / National Geographic / World Press Photo 2020

Alain Schroeder won first prize in the "Nature" category: his winning photo shows the carcass of a month-old orangutan lying on the surgical drape of a rescue team near the city of Subulussalam, Sumatra, Indonesia. The baby great ape died shortly after it was found on an oil palm plantation with its injured mother.

Image: Alain Schroeder / World Press Photo 2020

The best sports press photo is from Mark Blich, who captured Kawhi Leonard's (Toronto Raptors) buzzer beater in the seventh game of the NBA semifinals series against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Image: Mark Blinch / NBAE / World Press Photo 2020

On May 21, 2019, students and police officers clashed against the government in Algeria's capital, Algiers: Farouk Batiche won first prize in the “Spot News Singles” category.

Image: Farouk Batiche / DPA / World Press Photo 2020