Australia’s childlike sex doll epidemic continues to spread as another man is arrested – Screen Shot
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Australia’s childlike sex doll epidemic continues to spread as another man is arrested

Reports have surfaced of the arrest of an Australian man, based in Sydney, for allegedly importing a sex doll with childlike qualities. This appears part of a wider trend, as concerns rise over a 653 per cent surge in the number of similar products confiscated by authorities in just two years. 

This most recent arrest is the latest in a long line of the same crime; just nine months ago, in December 2020, Australian authorities discovered the online open selling of disturbing child sex dolls on Etsy and disclosed that over 100 dolls of this nature had been seized in just five months. This latest arrest followed the discovery and investigation of a suspicious package conducted by Australian border officials.

Border officials seized the package on 28 July—declared and labelled as a clothes ‘mannequin’. On further probing, they discovered that it contained not a mannequin but a childlike sex doll. The discovery was then assigned to the Australian Border Force (ABF) authorities who later conducted a search warrant of a property located in South-West Sydney, which followed with the arrest of a 23-year-old man on Wednesday 8 September. The suspect in question was arrested on the grounds of importing “tier 2 goods.”

A similar tactic was conducted just last year, October 2020, with two West Australian men in their 60s charged with the same crime, after ABF officials uncovered again declared ‘mannequins’ to be childlike sex dolls. In that same month, another 43-year-old man was arrested after 11 dolls of this nature were found in air cargo shipments. The vile products on Australia’s prohibited tier 2 goods list are legally considered in the country as child abuse materials.

According to Australia’s Customs Act, the importing of childlike sex dolls is a criminal offence that is punished by up to ten years in prison and/or fines of up to $525,000. Possession of such an item could also warrant a penalty of up to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Commander for the ABF, Justin Bathurst, stated that the department was dedicated to finding these products and catching those responsible for importing them into the country. He explained the wider implications such products can have on real children, “These dolls sexualise children, they are not harmless and do not prevent people from offending in the future.” Disturbingly, “these dolls often include instructions on how to use them, they sometimes come with children’s clothing or blankets with cartoon characters on them,” Bathurst explained.

 “In my experience, they look like real children,” he stated, also explaining that other abusive child material is often found alongside the dolls. In a statement, the ABF disclosed that it had confiscated a total number of 226 childlike sex dolls (including parts) in the financial year 2020 to 2021, surpassing the 138 from the previous year. Officials also revealed that they would continue to work with other global officials as a majority of products were shipped to Australia from the locations of China, Japan, Hong Kong and more.

While the rise is terrifying, according to Amanda Coppleman—ABF Superintendent Investigations and Sponsor Monitoring Unit QLD and NT—the percentage surge in childlike sex dolls could just be an indication of the organisation’s improved, effective and diligent investigations.

VICE reports the lack of clarity on whether this rise can be correlated to the COVID-19 pandemic, citing its own investigation into the large spike in adult sex dolls distributed online in the past 18 months; with an Australian Federal Police spokesperson telling the publication that the quantity of child abuse content online is so rapidly increasing that some sites even crash.

Karen Andrews, Federal Minister for Home Affairs, stated that “the Morrison government is serious about cracking down on this abhorrent crime…This National Child Protection Week, I’m calling on all Australians to help us in this fight. Take the threat seriously, learn the warning signs, start a discussion, and help protect children.”

Pornhub removes millions of videos after investigation finds child abuse content

Pornhub has just removed millions of videos—more than 9 million—after an investigation revealed a large number of them featured underaged and sex-trafficked subjects. What first led to this purge and what part did the pornographic video-sharing platform play in this?

In July 2020, Pornhub, the world’s biggest porn site, made headlines while facing accusations of promoting violence against women and sex trafficking on its platform. Shortly after, a petition was launched with the aim of shutting down the website and holding its executives accountable for “aiding trafficking.”

Fast forward to 4 December, when The New York Times posted the in-depth article The Children of Pornhub which further highlighted Pornhub’s profit off videos of exploitation and assault. This not only caused the credit companies Visa and Mastercard to cut ties with the Pornhub and all related websites, but it also forced the platform to prohibit unverified users from posting new content.

However, only restricting the posting options for unverified users wasn’t enough, which is why Pornhub had to remove content previously uploaded by unverified users too. In a blog post announcing the changes, Pornhub wrote, “This means every piece of Pornhub content is from verified uploaders, a requirement that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter have yet to institute. At Pornhub, the safety of our community is our top priority.”

By Monday 14 December, the purge had already brought the total number of videos on the site down from 13 million to just 4 million, a Vice report found. As crucial as it was for Pornhub to take action against the overwhelming amount of content including child rapes, revenge pornography, racist and misogynist content, and more on its platform, the purge may pose a significant threat to sex workers who use the platform’s sales as a source of income.

Until now, anyone could upload videos on Pornhub. From today, only verified users can do so, but to become ‘verified’, users are required to submit a photo of themselves holding a piece of paper with their username. This process takes time, and for sex workers who have already been struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, the news is “crushing,” says Pornhub.

The platform also banned downloads in order to slow down the sharing of non-consensual videos and made some key expansions to its moderation process by launching a trusted flagger programme with dozens of non-profit organisations.

Although the company acknowledged the severity of the accusations, it also highlighted the fact that the campaign to crackdown on Pornhub comes from groups that have long campaigned against sex content of all kinds. In its statement, Pornhub said it is “being targeted not because of our policies and how we compare to our peers, but because we are an adult content platform.”

According to The Guardian, the groups spearheading the effort to police Pornhub include the anti-pornography groups the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, which was formerly known as Morality in Media, and Exodus Cry/TraffickingHub.

Pornhub was previously criticised for continuing to host videos by the amateur porn specialist GirlsDoPorn, a company that offered girls being featured in porn “for the first and only time”, even after a court in San Diego heard evidence that the videos were made using dishonesty and abuse. The official GirlsDoPorn page was not removed until October 2020, although the court began hearing evidence in August. Its videos were still being found on the platform months later.

To put things into perspective, “In the last three years, Facebook self-reported 84 million instances of child sexual abuse material. During that same period, the independent, third-party Internet Watch Foundation reported 118 incidents on Pornhub,” reports The Guardian. Pornhub came first, perhaps now it’s time for Facebook and YouTube to be held accountable?