Last month the govt employee was arrested on charges of child sexual abuse and sharing, or selling, photographs and videos of such material to pedophiles around the world via the darknet

New Delhi: The CBI has arrested the wife of a Uttar Pradesh government employee accused of sexually abusing more than 50 children over the past 10 years. News reports said the woman, identified as Durgavati, had “direct knowledge of the crime and (was) also influencing witnesses”.

She has been sent to judicial custody till January 4.

Her husband – Rambhawan – was arrested last month on charges of child sexual abuse and sharing, or selling photographs and videos of such material to pedophiles around the world via the darknet.

A special court in UP’s Banda district sent Rambhawan to CBI custody till November 30.

Officials of the central investigative agency said the abused children, who are between five and 16 years old, came from three districts across the state – Banda, Chitrakoot and Hamirpur.

Raids on the accused’s residence unearthed eight mobile phones, ₹ 8 lakh in cash, sex toys, a laptop and other digital evidence, including a large volume of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Scrutiny of e-mails indicated he was in touch with others (Indians and foreign nationals) to share CSAM.

During interrogation, the accused told investigators he bribed the children with mobile phones and other electronic gadgets to ensure they stayed silent about his activities.

In January, data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed that over 100 children are sexually abused in India every single day; this is a 22 per cent jump from the previous year, NCRB data showed.

Overall, crimes against children has increased more than six times between 2008 and 2018 – from 22,500 recorded cases to 1,41,764 two years ago. According to the report, UP recorded the second-highest number of child rapes (2,023).

The darknet – which the accused used to sell or share child sexual abuse materials – refers to a hidden network within the internet that can only be accessed with specific software configurations and is used to exchange pornographic content or engage in other illegal activities.

In August the government flagged “misuse” of the darknet at an online conference of BRICS nations (Brazil, India, Russia, China and South Africa) and called for real-time information sharing among member states to help crack down on illegal activities routed through this space.

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