Images in the Grey Area

Every day, adults with sexual fantasies involving children buy, sell, and distribute images of children who are partially nude and/or posing in a certain way. Save the Children Denmark has written a report about this subject named, Images in the Grey Area (PDF).

We have researched this booming market for images of children posing erotically and highly recommend that a law be passed against these images, in order to better protect our children.

Distinct Grey Area Images

Pornographic images of children are illegal. Child sexual abuse is illegal. However, every day, a distinct type of image that satisfies the sexual fantasies of some, are bought, sold, and shared on the internet. Behind these images, children are being misused. Still, the images are legal.

“Unfortunately, there is a big market for distributing these types of images. The people behind the operations are making a lot of money, completely legally. The customers are mainly adults with a sexual interest in children, and the images are very harmful to the children in them. These children deserve better protection.”

The Misuse of Grey Area Images

While writing Images in the Grey Area (PDF). we analyzed more than 100,000 images of children posing erotically.

These images do not show the child’s genitals or direct sexual acts; however, the child is often posing in an erotic manner. For example, he/she could be partially nude, wearing make-up, or pouting his/her lips. These images are harmful to children because they are shared in pornographic contexts and are used to satisfy the sexual fantasies of adults.

Weak Legislation

According to Danish criminal law, Section 264, on defamation and right to privacy, children technically are protected against the publication of these types of images.
However, the way that the law is set up now, the only way an image can be removed is if a child actively seeks it out and reports it. According to Gitte Jakobsen, this requirement is a problem.

She states that, “The current legislature doesn’t really help children. In part, because many children are unaware of what the pictures are used for, and may feel ashamed of having taken the pictures. Some may have received payment from a photographer. All of this keeps children from reporting the abuse.”

“We acknowledge that the legislature concerning this grey area is complex, but is it really fair or realistic that a child will be able to find and report the picture alone? It does not seem likely. We believe that the police should have the authority to take legal action on the child’s behalf.”

Think Before Sharing

Clearly, images of children posing are meant for a certain purpose. But technically, all pictures can be copied and misused.

Therefore, Gitte Jakobsen recommends that you think twice before sharing a picture. “We don’t mean to keep anyone from sharing funny or memorable family pictures; however we encourage children and adults to think before sharing an image, on Facebook for example. Also, commercial photos that explicitly portray children in an erotic and offensive way should be made illegal and reported as soon as possible.”

Based on the information in this report, Save the Children Denmark have formulated 10 proposals for policy-makers.

If you come across offensive material of children on the internet, you can report it, here.