In Depth

Call for ban on child sex robots

Paedophiles could exploit robotic 'dolls', professor warns

Sheffield Professor Noel Sharkey, whose Foundation for Responsible Robotics has been conducting a consultation on ethical concerns relating to robot sex technology, told the BBC that the subject of child sex robots needed urgent consideration by the public and the judiciary.

 "We need to think as a society what we want to do about it. I don't know the answers - I am just asking the questions," he said.

His report calls for a preemptive ban on the importation of sex dolls designed to resemble underage people, which the foundation said could otherwise be accessed by paedophiles.

While the Western world - including the UK, the US and Australia - takes a hardline legal stance on the issue, making possession of fictional child abuse images a criminal offence, in Japan "sexual material involving adolescents is a fairly mainstream interest", the BBC reports.

However, critics fear its very availability might "normalise, facilitate, or lead to an increased risk of sexual abuse" in real life, the BBC says.

A 2007 Home Office report into non-photographic depictions of child sex abuse acknowledged that proposals to criminalise the possession of such images were based on the "concern" of police and child abuse charities rather than scientific data.

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