News.com.au reports on our investigation today
Etsy claims to be a “global marketplace for unique and creative goods. It’s home to a universe of special, extraordinary items, from unique handcrafted pieces to vintage treasures."
So how do child sex abuse dolls fit in?
We have discovered hundreds of lifelike sex dolls on Etsy. Many of these dolls are designed and sized to look like children.
This doll, with a distressed facial expression, is the height of an average 11-12 year old girl.
News.com.au home page today:
In our investigation, spearheaded by Campaigns Manager Melinda Liszewski, we posed as a potential buyer and approached sellers of child sex abuse dolls on Etsy. We exposed child sex abuse dolls modelled on a 14-year-old Instagram model. We then sent the seller computer-generated images of non-existing children and asked if they could make child sex abuse dolls that resembled the girls in the images. The seller indicated he could:
“Men who are found with child abuse dolls are also (often) found with other forms of child sex abuse material, including things like photos and videos of children and babies being raped and tortured,” said Collective Shout campaign manager Caitlin Roper, who is also completing a PHD at RMIT University researching sex dolls and robots.
“There are reported scenarios from this year of men still incorporating living children into their child sex abuse doll use.”
Ms Roper cited research from the Australian Institute of Criminology, which concluded there was no evidence these products prevented child sexual abuse.
“Instead, they present a risk of escalation and may actually increase the likelihood of child sexual abuse,” she said.
The providers of the childlike sex dolls have proved they will go to extraordinary lengths to supply customised material to abusers, Ms Roper told NCA NewsWire.
“Men could see a girl out in public, take a photo and say, ‘I want a doll modelled on her’,” she said.
“They could send in photos of children they know or have some kind of caretaking power over, so there’s lots of ways men can use this to victimise living children.
“It’s a new way they can be victimised and abused even without their knowledge and without their presence.”
When NCA Newsire contacted Etsy, they swiftly deactivated the account. But Etsy has known about child sex abuse dolls on their platform for months, and they ignored us. And what about all the other child sex abuse dolls still being sold through their platform, as well as those dolls which can be customised to resemble children upon request? What are they doing about that?
More media coverage of our campaign
Caitlin Roper, the Collective Shout campaign manager, said child sex dolls 'legitimise and normalise men's sexual use and abuse of children'.
'Defenders of child sex abuse dolls claim that they could prevent child abuse, but there is no evidence for this,' she told Daily Mail Australia.
'There was a case in Florida this year where a child sex abuse doll was apparently modelled on the image of an eight-year-old girl posted to social media.'
Ms Roper said customisable sex dolls were 'a new technologically-mediated way to victimise children'.
'Even when child sex abuse dolls are not necessarily being advertised, some sellers will customise dolls to appear child-like, or even based on buyers specifications.
'Men could commission child sex dolls to be made of children they know, children in their care, children whose images have been publicly shared to social media, or children they have seen out in public,' she explained.
Etsy is one of the corporate offenders on our 2020 Crossed Off list- vote with your wallet, and don't shop at Etsy this Christmas.
Watch our Campaigns Manager Caitlin Roper in a video presentation "Better a robot than a real child": Responding to arguments in support of child 'sex' dolls
“Better a robot than a real child”: The spurious logic used to justify child sex dolls - ABC Religion and Ethics