NSW man first to be jailed under new law after turning Kmart toy into child sex doll

NSW man first to be jailed under new law after turning Kmart toy into child sex doll

By Rachael Wong

This week, 52-year-old Robert Garcia was jailed for 12 months in NSW after converting a doll he bought for his grandchildren from Kmart into a child sex abuse doll.

The Warilla resident is the first person in Australia to be jailed for possessing a child-like sex doll under new commonwealth laws passed in September last year to combat the sexual abuse of children in Australia and overseas.

Footage of Garcia having sex with the doll was found in his home by police, along with child pornography on three different mobile phones containing hundreds of child abuse images.

Under the new law, possession of a child-like sex doll carries a maximum prison term of 15 years (s273A.1, Criminal Code Act 1995).

Several others have also been charged under the new law, including a 30-year-old man from South Australia, a 44-year-old man from Queensland and three men from NSW (aged 62, 42 and 37 years old). Like Garcia, these men were also found to possess child abuse images – the circulation of which has skyrocketed during the coronavirus lockdown. But unlike Garcia, they had purchased and imported the dolls from overseas.

But where does one buy such an abhorrent item? Over the past week, grassroots campaigning movement Collective Shout has exposed the mega online shopping corporate Alibaba for allowing child sex abuse dolls to be sold on its e-commerce platform.

The team’s distressing investigation has found large numbers of child-like dolls marketed as ‘young girl’, ‘flat chest’ and ‘sex dolls for men’ sold by 18 suppliers. Some dolls are as small as 65cm, the size of a six-month-old baby.

Collective Shout Campaigner Melinda Liszewski says this is the most disturbing content she’s seen in her 10 years of campaigning. “At a time when there is more awareness of child sexual abuse than ever, how is it that a multi-billion dollar mainstream corporation like Alibaba can profit from normalising the rape of babies?”, she said.

Normalising and encouraging the sexualisation and sexual abuse of children, this new form of child pornography is a growing problem in Australia and worldwide – which is why the new law is so critical. The Australian Border Force had seized 75 child-like sex dolls by June this year, compared to 35 in the last financial year.

Research by the Australian Institute of Criminology has found that the use of child-like sex dolls may lead to an escalation in child sex offences – from viewing online child abuse material to contact sexual offending.

Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Northern Command Lesa Gale said the dolls could desensitise people who used them to the physical, emotional and psychological harm caused by sexual abuse. “These dolls are not harmless and do not prevent people from offending in the future,” she said. 

“Child sex abuse dolls are designed to facilitate users’ fantasies of raping a child”, says Collective Shout Campaigns Manager Caitlin Roper, a PhD Candidate researching female-bodied sex dolls and robots. “This is not a victimless crime – these life-like dolls normalise and legitimise the sexual use and abuse of children.” 

Ms Roper will speak on the issue at the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Online Global Summit, an event bringing together 10,000 experts and campaigners working to combat sexual exploitation. Hosted out of Washington DC, the 10-day summit starts this weekend.

Rachael Wong is the CEO of Women’s Forum Australia

Women’s Forum Australia is an independent think tank that undertakes research, education and public policy advocacy on issues affecting women and girls, with a particular focus on addressing behaviours and practices that are harmful and abusive to them. We are a non-partisan, non-religious, tax-deductible charity. We do not receive any government funding and rely solely on donations to make an impact. Support our work today.

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