Where there is demand, there will always be supply. We want to tackle that demand.
By Susie Hargreaves OBE, CEO of the IWF and UK Safer Internet Centre Director.
Today marks a turning point for IWF. For 23 years we have been removing from the internet images and videos showing the sexual abuse of children.
Despite us removing more and more images than ever before, and despite creating and using some of the world’s leading technology, it’s clear that this problem is far from being solved.
The cause of the problem is the demand. Unfortunately, and as the police often tell us, there are 100,000 people sitting in the UK right now demanding images of the abuse of children like Olivia.
Olivia is a little girl who we see in images every day in our Hotline. She was first sexually abused when she was three and we’ve seen her grow up through cruel images and videos which showed her being raped and sexually tortured. She was rescued from her abuse in 2013 when she was eight years old – five years after the abuse began. Despite this, we still see her in images every day, even now.
Stories of Olivia speak to the heart of the ‘demand’. If no one wanted to see her images, they wouldn’t still be shared and stored in new places on the internet. We would no longer find them five times a day.
That’s why we’re calling for all the partners who work in this space to get together to run a long term, well-funded prevention campaign. Without this, the battle just can’t be won.
We’ve released ‘Once upon a Year’ – our 2018 Annual Report – to help explain the experiences of Olivia and the many other children out there just like her.
But let’s not forget that our core mission isn’t complete. We will still take reports of child sexual abuse images and videos and work globally to have them removed. Olivia needs to know that we’re still here, still doing this work.
You can read Once Upon a Year on the Internet Watch Foundation’s website here.