Malawi takes vital step to remove online child sexual abuse

17/05/2018

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This International Child Helpline Day (17 May), a new system in Malawi for reporting child sexual abuse content launches with the Cambridge-based international children’s charity, the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation).

The IWF, which is the world’s leading charity in identifying and removing online child sexual abuse material from the internet, is launching IWF reporting websites, known as Reporting Portals, in priority countries around the world.

The new Portal in Malawi, which is the 21st Portal to join the IWF’s global network, will allow Malawians to anonymously report child sexual abuse imagery they may stumble across online, using a web-based form, so that any illegal images and videos of children can be removed.

The launch celebrates the IWF’s new partnership with the charity Child Helpline International this International Child Helpline Day. Child Helpline International’s global network of helplines for young people marks International Child Helpline Day by calling for an end to all forms of violence against children, in solidarity with achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16.

YONECO (Youth Net and Counselling) operates Malawi’s child helpline, and fittingly, will also host the Reporting Portal, with Malawi becoming the 21st country to be part of the collaboration.

Malawi’s government signed up to the Reporting Portal to further its goal to protect both child victims of sexual abuse and internet users, and tackle child sexual abuse imagery online.

Malawi has become the third country to benefit from a prestigious international grant, the Fund to End Violence Against Children, which is funding the implementation of the portals across the world. This funded project will see more countries establishing reporting mechanisms to keep children safe online between 2017 and 2020.

The website is a safe and anonymous way to send reports directly to expert analysts who then assess the reports and have the content removed. Anyone can fill in a report form via the weblink https://report.iwf.org.uk/mw

Esmie T. Kainja, PhD, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, said: “The Ministry is pleased to have the portal which will help to ensure the safety and security of children online. As a country, Malawi is passionate about protecting children as technology advances and is committed to eliminate child sexual abuse.”

Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO, said: “Our aim is to prevent the victims of child sexual abuse from being revictimised the world over, as offenders view and share the disturbing images of their abuse over and over again. It takes a global effort to make this happen, and we’re very grateful to Malawi for implementing the Reporting Portal to help protect children.”

Jenny Thornton, IWF International Development Manager, said: “The motto of Malawi is Unity and Freedom. It is therefore fitting that the united effort by IWF, Child Helpline International, YONECO, MACRA and the Ministry of Gender has resulted in the launch of the Reporting Portal today. By giving citizens in Malawi a confidential place to report suspect illegal images they might see online, means they can enjoy the freedom of the digital world with confidence.”

For more information about IWF’s Reporting Portals, go to www.iwf.org.uk/what-we-do/how-we-assess-and-remove-content/our-international-reporting-portals

Image: Jenny Thornton, IWF International Development Manager (front centre), in Malawi with stakeholders