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United Nations Proposes Initiative That Will Ban Media Involving Underage-Looking Characters Engaging in Sexual Activities

The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) from the United Nations has proposed an initiative that will ban any form of content involving fictional and real minors in sexual situations.

The initiative that the CRC is proposing is called “Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” or OPSC. While the purpose of this initiative was to prevent the sale and distribution of children, child prostitution, and child pornography, there are some questionable paragraphs in the draft of the initiative. This starts with how child pornography is defined in the OPSC and what the CRC thinks about it.

The following quote is taken from pages 13-14 of the OPSC initiative draft. You can download a Word document of the complete draft from the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner’s website.


61. Child pornography is defined in article 2 OPSC as “any representation of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities, regardless of the means used, or any representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual purposes”. The qualification “by whatever means” reflects the broad range of material available in a variety of media, online and offline. It includes, inter alia: visual material such as photographs, movies, drawings and cartoons; audio representations; any digital media representation; live performances; written materials in print or online; and physical objects such as sculptures, toys, or ornaments.

62. The Committee urges States parties to prohibit, by law, child sexual abuse material in any form. The Committee notes that such material is increasingly circulating online, and strongly recommends States parties to ensure that relevant provisions of their Criminal Codes cover all forms of material, including when the acts listed in article 3.1(c) are committed online and including when such material represents realistic representations of non-existing children.

63. The Committee is of the view that “simulated explicit sexual activities” should be interpreted as including any material, online or offline, that depicts or otherwise represents any person appearing to be a child engaged in real or simulated sexually explicit conduct and realistic and/or virtual depictions of a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Such depictions contribute to normalising the sexualisation of children and fuels the demand of child sexual abuse material.


In this definition, the CRC states that the depiction of a child participating in sexual activities in media, such as drawings, cartoons, sculptures, and the like, is considered child pornography. While it is important to protect real children that can be exploited in child pornography, people are concerned about the CRC including “non-existing children” in drawings and cartoons. This means that if the initiative is accepted, any content used for sexual arousal with shota and loli characters can be banned by the United Nations, and anyone in possession of said content can be prosecuted.

The reason the CRC is cracking down on fictional child porn is that they believe allowing content like that will normalize real sexual abuse of children and urge people who indulge in that media to abuse real children.

On page 9 of the draft, it says the CRC is also trying to find patterns in sex offenders and where the sexual exploitation of children originate from. From what has been provided in the OPSC, they believe social norms relating to masculinity and gender are to blame.


33. In preventing the sale and sexual exploitation of children, States parties should pay attention to root causes underlying these problems, such as harmful social norms, particularly with regard to complex notions related to masculinity and gender, which may contribute to perpetuating the problem, and which require specific awareness raising measures. An important aspect underlying these offences lies in the demand that exists, both among sex offenders and economic profiteers, of children for purposes of sexual exploitation and abuse.


You can read more about the OPSC initiative from ohchr.org and OneAngryGamer.net. If you are against the initiative proposed by the CRC and want to change it, you can send comments about it to their email address, crc@ohchr.org. Comments will only be accepted in English, French, and Spanish. The deadline to send comments in by is March 31st, 2019.

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