Home HUMAN RIGHTS “.ru” is the top domain used for distribution of child sexual abuse material

“.ru” is the top domain used for distribution of child sexual abuse material

With almost 258 million speakers around the world, Russian is the 8th most spoken language globally. Interestingly, Russian is the 2nd most used language on the internet, with the Russian domain, ".ru" being the top domain used for the distribution of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

by gary cartwright
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Not much is known about online crimes of sexual violence against children perpetrated by Russian speaking offenders, and prior research is fragmented. Protect Children’s latest ReDirection research begins to fill a huge knowledge gap in preventing online child sexual abuse by focusing specifically on Russian speaking CSAM offenders.

The ReDirection research collects unprecedented data directly from anonymous CSAM users in the dark web to better prevent sexual violence against children. The data is gathered through two anonymous surveys located in the dark web. The new report “Russian Speaking CSAM Users in the Dark Web” presents findings on Russian language responses to the surveys. The geographical location or nationality of respondents is unknown as the surveys do not collect any identifiable data. Russian language is widely spoken around the world, for example, Russian is the most spoken foreign language in Finland, and the 4th most spoken language in Germany.

The research produced by Protect Children specialists is an extensive analysis of qualitative and quantitative data about Russian speaking CSAM users gathered since May 2021. It provides contextual background relevant to the three countries with the largest populations of Russian speakers: Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. The conducted analysis revealed that many Russian speaking respondents were first exposed to CSAM under the age of 18, report escalating to increasingly extreme and illicit material from adult pornography, and are less likely to seek for help with CSAM use. The research produces new knowledge that allows to elaborate relevant solutions to effectively prevent CSAM use.

“The Russian language is the 2nd most used language on the internet and .ru is the top domain used for the distribution of child sexual abuse material. Despite the massive scale of the issue, we don’t know enough about Russian speaking CSAM offenders. We are addressing this knowledge gap in our report with new and valuable information on Russian speaking CSAM users on the dark web”says Nina Vaaranen-Valkonen, Executive Director, Senior Specialist, Psychotherapist at Protect Children.

The ReDirection surveys for CSAM users are available to answer in 21 languages. In total, 21,983 responses were collected in the period between 5 May 2021 – 19 January 2023. 7.5% (N=l,658) of all responses are from Russian speaking users, which makes it third largest language group of respondents after English (N=l3,390} and Spanish (N=l,658). Based on these research results, Protect Children will translate the ReDirection Self-Help Program for CSAM users into Russian to strengthen the prevention of sexual violence against children and to guide Russian speaking CSAM users towards behavioural change.

The report is a continuation of the high-quality studies based on the ReDirection project data, e.g. lnsoll, Ovaska, Nurmi, Aaltonen & Vaaranen-Valkonen “Risk Factors for Child Sexual Abuse Material Users Contacting Children Online”, Huikuri & lnsoll “Darknet Online Communities of Child Sexual Abusers”, lnsoll, Ovaska & Vaaranen-Valkonen “CSAM Users in the Dark Web: Protecting Children Through Prevention”, Huikuri “The Darkest Side of the Darknet: How Do Online Communities of Pedophiles Contribute to the Justification of Sexual Violence Against Children?” and the national review “Online crimes of sexual violence against children in Finland”.

Suojellaan Lapsia, Protect Children ry. is the only organisation in Finland dedicated to ending all forms of sexual violence against children. The new research is a part of the ReDirection project, which is funded by the Safe Online initiative at End Violence. Safe Online has invested over US $71M in 89 projects around the world to create a safer internet for children.

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