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Taiwan calls for stricter child sexual abuse image penalties

Reporter Huang-Chi Ho
Release time:2024/04/16 16:37
Last update time:2024/04/16 16:37
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TAIPEI (TVBS News) — The scandal involving Taiwanese entertainer Mickey Huang, who was found in possession of child pornography, has sparked national outrage and brought renewed attention to digital child sexual exploitation in Taiwan.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the number of child sexual exploitation victims in Taiwan has risen, with figures increasing from 1,879 in 2021 to 2,282 in 2022—a rise of over 20%. The majority of cases in 2022 and early 2023—between 80 and 90%—involved creating or possessing sexual images of minors. Notably, around 70% of these crimes utilized online platforms, social media, or communication apps.

 

Since 2014, Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Bureau has partnered with the U.S. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to combat child sexual exploitation. This collaboration includes sharing intelligence and strategies to track offenders and rescue victims. 

Recent data from NCMEC’s CyberTipline system paints a concerning picture: reports of sexual exploitation linked to Taiwanese IP addresses surged from 33,621 in 2019 to 72,902 in 2022, marking a 2.17 times increase and highlighting the rising prevalence of online child sexual exploitation.

In response to this growing issue, Taiwan's legislature passed amendments to the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act and the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act in early 2023. These amendments increase penalties for creating, distributing, or broadcasting sexual images of minors and now classify possession of such material as a criminal offense, with penalties of up to one year in prison.
 

After the Mickey Huang scandal emerged, calls for harsher penalties and regulations gained momentum. The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) proposed establishing different sentencing standards based on factors such as the victim's age and the degree of brutality.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Wang Shih-chien mentioned that he would propose amending the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act to increase the penalty to three to five years of imprisonment. Additionally, New Power Party (NPP) chairperson Claire Wang urged the establishment of a competent agency to address digital sexual crimes, aiming to curb the dissemination patterns of overseas platforms.

In response, Premier Chen Chien-jen pledged the government has "zero tolerance" for the exploitation of children and will work towards building a safer social net for all.

While policymakers advocate for harsher penalties, experts emphasize the critical role of education in addressing this problem. Raising awareness about the dangers of sharing and viewing intimate images and building empathy towards victims are essential steps in preventing digital child sexual exploitation and safeguarding minors from harm.

The Taiwan Briefing

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#Taiwan#child pornography#Mickey Huang#digital sexual crimes#child protection laws#online platforms#social media#child sexual exploitation#sexual images#U.S. partnership
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