New campaign: Hold online offenders financially accountable for child sexual abuse

19 January 2015

Child victims to claim compensation from online abusersECPAT UK has today launched an online campaign with powerful petition website Care2, calling on Michael Gove MP, UK Secretary of State for Justice, to grant access to recovery funds for child victims of online sexual abuse. 

Modelled on significant legal developments in the United States, the campaign seeks to introduce a financial order to enable child victims of online sexual abuse to claim compensation from their abusers.

Supporters are urged to visit the campaign page, hosted by Care2, to sign the petition.

Earlier this week, ECPAT UK joined with leading children’s rights organisations in the Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety (CHIS) to publish a letter in The Observer to Michael Gove and set out the case for the new financial order.

Writing at the time, CHIS Secretary John Carr said, “The sort of financial orders we envisage might cover an element of compensation to the victim but also make a contribution to the cost of any necessary therapy or ongoing support the abused victim might need. Typically this would relieve the state of some or all of the cost of providing such therapy or support.”  

The campaign cites Amy v. Paroline, a landmark case calling for financial compensation from each offender convicted of possessing, downloading or sharing online child abuse images. 

Read about the campaign in full below. 

Every day, Amy (not her real name), now a young woman, faces the prospect of reliving the trauma and psychological distress of child sexual abuse:

“I always know that there is another ‘little me’ being seen on the Internet by other abusers.

For children in the United States like Amy, the law has now made it possible to claim damages against their online abusers to help pay the costs of their ongoing recovery. 

But here in the UK, children are unable to hold offenders financially accountable for the abuse they inflict. 

Call on Michael Gove, UK Secretary of State for Justice, to introduce a legal financial order to enable child victims of online sexual abuse to claim compensation from their abusers.

The NCA’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command estimates that 50,000 individuals in the UK are involved in downloading, sharing or streaming child sexual abuse images and videos. According to children’s rights experts, each time an image is shared, a new form of child sexual abuse occurs.

This recurring abuse can have an enduring psychological and financial impact on children like Amy, who require ongoing therapy and struggle to access long-term education and employment.

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