Between innocence and reprehensibility

Edathy affair puts increasing spotlight on laws protecting children from pornography and abuse. Now the Catholic Church is also calling for a ban on the sale of nude photos.

Calls for tougher laws against child pornography in response to the affair involving SPD politician Sebastian Edathy are growing louder. Bamberg Archbishop Ludwig Schick also backed calls for stricter rules "No nude photos of children for commercial purposes! Let's push for a change in the law," reads a tweet by Schick circulated Tuesday morning.

The German Child Protection League is also calling for the purchase or sale of photos of naked children to be made a general punishable offense. "It is a serious violation of human dignity when photos of children are marketed or bought," the president of the Child Protection League, Heinz Hilgers, told the "Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger" (Tuesday edition). However, the purchase or sale of such images should not be punished in the same way as child pornography: "There must be a gradual difference."Moreover, things should not be criminalized "that are part of everyday life," such as photos of children on the beach taken by parents.

Commercial distribution should be prohibited

The CDU/CSU is also considering a general ban on nude photos of children for sale. "At least the commercial distribution should be prohibited," said Interior Secretary Gunther Krings (CDU) to the "Rheinische Post" (Tuesday edition), published in Dusseldorf.

Saarland Minister President Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) also sees a need for action. "When all the smoke settles in this affair, we will have to talk about the problematic gray area that nude photos of children acquired for sale are not relevant under criminal law," she told the newspaper.

For the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag, parliamentary group vice chairwoman Nadine Schon and the chairman of the family working group, Marcus Weinberg (both CDU), announced a review of "whether our criminal law needs to be adapted". The German legal system and law enforcement must be adapted internationally, said the politicians in Berlin. The fact that the possession of film and photo sets with unclothed children and adolescents is basically classified as legal in Germany is "to be questioned in the sense of the protection of children".

Federal Family Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) had already announced that she would examine the regulations in the law for the protection of minors. The Federal Government Commissioner for Abuse, Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig, also sees a gap in the law.

Serious consequences for children and young people

The abuse representative of the Federal Government, Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig, spoke in the "world" (Tuesday) of a gap in the law, which must be closed. "If representations of children are produced in order to satisfy sexual interests of adults, this must be sanctioned by criminal law in the sense of better child protection."

Also with view of the consumers of such pictures must be spoken about an extension of the criminal offence, so Rorig further. "These images have serious consequences for children and young people if they can be found on the net for a lifetime," he said.

Mass crime child porn

The president of the human rights organization SOLWODI, Sister Lea Ackermann, expressed similar views. "The protective space for children is becoming smaller and smaller in our society," criticized the nun on our site.

The Association of Criminal Investigators (BDK) also called for a higher threat of punishment on the ie of child pornography. At the same time, union chief Andre Schulz complained in the "Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung" (Tuesday) that investigators were relatively helpless in the face of the "mass crime of child pornography". Often seized computers would be stored for up to a year before a criminal investigator would even take a look at the material. That was not in the sense of the victim protection.

Over the weekend, representatives of abuse victims had called on politicians and the media not to lose sight of the victims' perspective in the discussion about the Edathy case. It should be considered, for example, how the right to one's own image can be strengthened in Germany for those affected and "made a criminal offence", according to the "Eckiger Tisch" initiative for those affected.

Association of judges defends Edathy investigation

The Hanover public prosecutor's office is investigating former Bundestag member Sebastian Edathy (SPD) on suspicion of possessing child pornography. According to the public prosecutor's office, he had acquired pictures of naked boys, but on which no sexual acts are shown. Edathy himself called possession of the photos "clearly legal". The German Judges Association nevertheless defended investigations and also searches at Edathy's home.

It is constant practice to investigate people who are active in the border area between punishable child pornography and unpunishable possession of sexualized nude images of minors, said the vice chairman of the association of judges in NRW, Jochen Hartmann, to the "Rheinische Post" newspaper. Given Edathy's obvious affinity for certain sexualized depictions of children and adolescents, the public prosecutor's office was virtually obliged to investigate the initial suspicion of a criminal act.

Distribution, acquisition and possession of child pornographic material is prohibited by the penal code and can be punished with a prison sentence of up to five years. The extent to which photos or films of naked children, but not depicted in sexual acts, are punishable by law is controversial. In addition to the provision in the Criminal Code, the Protection of Minors Act also prohibits child pornographic writings.

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