Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Write Their Own Path to Justice

Two young activists, Saanvi Arora and Anastasia Chaglasian have launched Protect Kids, Not Abusers to lobby for better legal protections for minors against online sexual abuse. Arora, a UC Berkeley student, and Chaglasian, a high school student, wrote legislation introduced as California bill SB-558. If passed, the legislation would extend the statute of limitations from 10 years to when the survivor turns 40 or five years after realizing the material has been produced, whichever date comes later. The bill would also amend the definition of “distribution” of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) in the California Penal Code to include “public display.”

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has reported a 35% increase in online CSAM from 2020 to 2021. Arora and Chaglasian are determined to end online child sexual abuse and make it easier for survivors to get justice through the US legal system. “Predators continue to adapt and capitalize off survivors’ inability to access justice, while policies remain lacklustre and outdated,” said Arora. “It’s ridiculous that corporations can profit from 29 million survivors’ trauma and face zero repercussions.”

Chaglasian was sexually exploited daily as a child and received no justice following repeated exploitation via the online chat website Omegle. Her abuser distributed child sexual abuse material to her without facing any repercussions. She now hopes to help others by lobbying for legislative change. “When I started this journey, it was just me on a laptop in my bed,” she said. “The first step is the hardest, but you’ll never look back once you take it. If not you, then who?!”

Arora and Chaglasian are joined by a team of activists, including a survivor as young as 14. They call for “longevity through representation” by centring young survivors in the narrative surrounding child sexual abuse. By sharing their stories, they hope to inspire others to take action against online sexual abuse.