April 12, 2018 / 2:28 PM / 12 days ago

Amazon pulls child sex dolls after criticism from UK watchdog

LONDON, April 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Child sex dolls have been pulled from sale by online retail giant Amazon.com Inc after widespread criticism from a watchdog and charities in Britain over concerns that people who use such lifelike dolls may go on to sexually abuse children.

More than a dozen child sex dolls were removed from sale, having been listed by third-party sellers, according to Amazon.

“All Marketplace sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who don’t will be subject to action including potential removal of their account,” an Amazon spokesman said in a statement. “The products in question are no longer available.”

England Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, said Amazon should explain how the dolls were permitted to be posted on their website, and ensure they cannot be put back up for sale.

“Such dolls are clearly built for one purpose, and that purpose is a clear danger to the safety of real children,” she said in a statement after a BBC investigation into the issue.

Britain allows people to manufacture and own child sex dolls yet it is illegal to import them. A British man was convicted last year for doing so in what police said was a landmark case in the fight against a new form of sex crime against children.

Opinion is divided over the use of child sex dolls, which have the appearance, weight and anatomy of real children.

Some charities argue such dolls should be made available on prescription to help prevent people who are sexually attracted to children acting on their desires.

Other organisations, such as the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), say sex dolls can be dangerous proxies to act out fantasies like rape or child abuse.

“There is a risk that people using these dolls could become desensitised ... (and) go on to harm children, as is often the case with those who view indecent images of children online,” said Almudena Lara, NSPCC’s head of policy and public affairs.

"There is absolutely no evidence that using the dolls stops potential abusers from abusing children," she added. (Writing By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith (Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)

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