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Anne Brasseur: raising awareness is essential for protecting children from sexual abuse

On the occasion of the first European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), made the following statement:

“The Parliamentary Assembly is a long-time defender of human rights, and it has always given special attention to the rights of the most vulnerable. Protecting children from harm is of the utmost importance – one in five children will be affected by sexual violence once in their lifetime – and yet we still have much work to do in many areas.

The Council of Europe has taken many steps to fight sexual violence again children, from the elaboration and adoption of the Lanzarote Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, to the ONE in FIVE Campaign to stop sexual violence against children aimed at promoting awareness of the issue – an initiative strongly supported by our Assembly over the last five years.

In order to make our action last into the future, the Committee of Ministers, upon recommendation by the Parliamentary Assembly, instituted the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual abuse, to be marked on 18 November of every year.

I am pleased to announce that several member countries are already marking this important day. The German Commissioner for Child Sex Abuse Issues has promoted this day and publicised the message. To mark the day, the Azerbaijan Parliament will hold a round-table on protection of children from violence. In Cyprus, there will be a balloon-release and video launch, organised by PACE representative Stella Kyriakides and others. In Greece, Elena Rapti, Contact Parliamentarian, will organise an event in the Hellenic Parliament.

The goal of this day is to raise awareness about sexual abuse and encourage an open dialogue in order to help prevent abuse, stop it early on wherever it happens and fight the stigmatization of victims. Yet too often, the issue of child sexual abuse is obscured by taboos and silence.

Raising public awareness is essential, but our efforts must not stop there. Although children must be given the tools to help fight sexual abuse, it is ultimately the responsibility of adults to create the legal structures and social safeguards to prevent abuse, assist victims and prosecute those who sexually abuse children.

I therefore call upon all my parliamentary colleagues to give their full support to fighting sexual abuse and exploitation of children, also beyond the end of the ONE in FIVE Campaign, and ideally, by organising events, debates and statements around the 18 November every year.

I urge you to join me in this fight so that we can offer our children a world in which they can live free from sexual violence.”


Background information:

Any public authority or children’s rights agency wishing to mark the European Day can make use of the resources elaborated in the framework of the ONE in FIVE campaign:

- ‘Kiko and the Hand’, a short cartoon educating young children about the ‘underwear rule’ saying that ‘a child should not be touched by others on intimate body parts’;
- the award-winning short film called ‘The Lake’, produced by the Parliamentary Assembly, encouraging adolescent victims to break the silence surrounding sexual abuse.
- a new video produced by the Council of Europe, encouraging children encountering abuse to seek help, this time aimed at 9-13 year-olds.

Over the past years, the Council of Europe has encouraged people young and old to follow the campaign on its website and via the Council of Europe One in Five Campaign Facebook page. You are invited to continuously share the campaign information and material with friends, families and in your professional environment.