Amazon has taken the decision to remove child sex dolls from their website, after concerns were raised about the effect they could have on predators and young children. A BBC investigation found twelve of the dolls for sale on Amazon Marketplace, and promptly contacted Amazon who removed one doll before it reappeared three days later. Amazon now claim to have removed all of the offending items that the BBC found, but it still isn't clear if there are any other similar materials for sale on the site. England’s Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, said: "These dolls are disgusting and are clearly meant to look like children. Not only do I, as Children's Commissioner, but the wider public also, have a right to expect a huge company like Amazon, to not only remove these products from their platform, but to explain why they are on there in the first place and ensure they can't just be reloaded having been taken down. Such dolls are clearly built for one purpose and that purpose is a clear danger to the safety of real children,"
The dolls were listed through third party sellers, and not Amazon themselves, and the company has released a vague statement that doesn't reference the controversy by name: "All Marketplace sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who don’t will be subject to action including potential removal of their account. The products in question are no longer available." Manufacturing and owning similar dolls is legal, but importing them from somewhere else involves breaking the law. Last year the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) seized 123 child sex dolls which people were trying to import into the country and in June, a British man was jailed for two years and eight months, and put on the sex offenders' register for life after he admitted importing one of the dolls. The case was referred to at the time as a 'landmark case in the fight against a new form of sex crime against children.'
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) say sex dolls can actually cause predators to be more likely to offend, rather than act as to prevent assaults. The dolls are designed to be as lifelike as possible, measuring three or four feet tall with waist sizes around 16 inches (41cm) and made of soft silicone. They were posed in sexually suggestive positions, and said to be accompanied by 'sexy lingerie' and described as '100% mimics girl's body.' Almudena Lara, NSPCC’s head of policy and public affairs, said: "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. There is absolutely no evidence that using the dolls stops potential abusers from abusing children. Until gaps in the law are addressed to make it illegal to make, sell or distribute them, retailers like Amazon should refuse to sell these vile dolls."