While child-sex-doll supporters argue that the sex dolls will prevent sexual offences against children, the opposite is the more likely outcome. Child sex dolls harm children through legitimising and normalising their sexual use. Instead of satisfying users’ sexual appetites for children, they could encourage and even strengthen these urges. Child sex dolls could have a “reinforcing effect” on paedophilic ideation, claims Peter Fagan from John Hopkins School of Medicine, and the use of such dolls could cause paedophilic urges to be acted on with more urgency.
Legislators and law-enforcement agencies believe that there could be a link between child sex dolls and sexual offending against children. A relationship between viewing child-exploitation material and contact offending has been established. There may also be a link between child-sex-doll ownership and possession of child-abuse material. In 2018, a police raid in Melbourne saw child sex dolls seized alongside “horrific” child-exploitation material, including videos of children and babies being tortured. In the United Kingdom, twenty out of twenty-six recent child-sex-doll offenders were found in possession of child-abuse material. Also in the United Kingdom, a surge in seizures of child sex dolls led police to identify previously unknown suspected paedophiles, resulting in seven men being charged, and six more facing allegations linked to child-exploitation images. According to the Crown Prosecution Services, child-sex-doll cases can be an indication of other offending against children.
A report from the Australian Institute of Criminology released last year argued that child sex dolls present a risk of escalation in sexual offence against children. Authors Rick Brown and Jane Shelling claimed that child sex dolls could “promote a continuum of behaviour that results in contact offending, by bridging the gap between fantasy and reality.” Patterns of escalation have already been documented in consumers of child-exploitation material, and researchers believe that consumers of child-abuse material could progress to using child dolls.
On a child-exploitation spectrum from viewing child exploitation to contact offending, performing sex acts on a shemale sex doll may be understood as a natural progression from viewing child-abuse material, and a step closer to sexually abusing a child. As Open University lecturer Litska Strikwerda acknowledges, using a child sex robot could be a much closer experience to actually sexually abusing a child. Maras and Shapiro argue that recent UK arrests for importing child sex dolls indicate that offenders escalate from viewing child-exploitation material to engaging in physical acts with child sex dolls.
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