UN approves new protocol to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation

UN approves new protocol to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation

ECPAT International proposes new guidelines that improve global efforts to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child announced the adoption of a new protocol to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. For almost 20 years, there has been a legal instrument in the United States protecting children from all forms of exploitation, trafficking, prostitution and pornography. This Protocol has not yet been adapted to the situation and growing concerns that have recently come from child Internet use. Developments in new online technologies, the widespread use of social media and online media, have created a permanent risk of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has long been concerned that many States parties children are at increased risk of sexual exploitation online, and they were not properly implementing the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC).

In the face of such a situation, the guidelines were developed by an expert working group led by ECPAT Internationalto give States concrete advice on how to effectively protect children from sexual exploitation.They address the more recent trends and issues related to the sale and sexual exploitation of children, such as:

  • Self-produced images

Children should never be held responsible for sharing these materials.The OPSC guidelines offer suggestions on how States should approach the increasing number of sexually explicit images/videos. Attached you can find all the suggestions in the link; https://www.ecpat.org/news/12-things-sexual-images-produced-by-children/.

  • Children's right to information

The new guidelines emphasise the need for stronger and more efficient educational programmes to help children have easier access to support groups, as well as inform them of the different ways that they can safely and confidentially report sexual abuse and exploitation. One suggestion presented by the guidelines involves the use of tech-friendly platforms to educate children, parents, school teachers, and caregivers to learn about online abuse.

  • The child as a victim

The guidelines advise how States can improve their legal systems to make sure sexually exploited children are treated as child victims, not criminals. This is crucial for children who are sexually exploited through prostitution in countries where prostitution is illegal.

  • The role of the private sector

The Optional Protocol, and the new guidelines, also emphasize the key role businesses play in combating child sexual exploitation. Banks need to work to stop illegal payments, internet service providers need to block illegal sites and increase their co-operation on growth, enforcement and law enforcement, the travel and tourism industry needs to work to prevent services their not to be abused by offenders.

The new guidelines address other issues that include more gender-sensitive support programs for victims - especially boys, as well as more attention to protecting the most vulnerable groups of children.

Please find attached the sources on which ECPAT experts supported their work:

Guidelines regarding the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/CRC/CRC.C.156_OPSC%20Guidelines.pdf

Explanatory Report to the OPSC guidelines; https://www.ecpat.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/OPSC-Guidelines-Explanatory-Report-ECPAT-International-2019.pdf

* ECPAT avoids terms that might harm or trivialize the sexual abuse of children: http://luxembourgguidelines.org/english-version/

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