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A higher priority for stopping sexual violence against children

Doreen Massey, Baroness Massey of Darwen

PACE has expressed its deep concern at the spread of sexual violence against children, often unreported due to shame, unbalanced power relations between victims and perpetrators, fear of disclosing intimate information or the fact that disclosure could result in further victimisation.

Adopting a resolution based on a report by Baroness Doreen Massey (United Kingdom, SOC) during a meeting today by tele-conference, PACE’s Standing Committee said the risk of child sexual abuse was even higher as Europe fought the COVID-19 pandemic: “Many children are confined with their actual or potential abusers, out of sight of others, who could normally detect, prevent or report the potential abuse.”

“With more time spent by children on gaming, social media and education platforms, on-line risks have grown too,” the parliamentarians said. “Child protection systems are not well-equipped to fulfil their mission in times of global health crisis,” the Assembly said.

It also called on member States to make addressing sexual violence against children a political priority, to make full use of available resources, to step up their action and to increase their co-operation.

Najat Maalla M’jid, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children, also took part in the debate, underlining the work being done at global level. She highlighted the importance of strong legislation, accountability for businesses and awareness-raising through education. She also stressed the role of parliaments and expressed her commitment to working closely with the Assembly.