Public Opinion is Clear: Urgent Legislation Required to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation! Read the story

Launch of the Disrupting Harm Report for Mozambique on Technology and the Sexual Exploitation of Children

Posted on Oct 27, 2022

Mozambique, 27 October 2022

BREAKING—New report estimates at least 13% of children in Mozambique were subjected to online sexual abuse and exploitation


Country Overview

The ground-breaking Disrupting Harm in Mozambique report has found that 13% of surveyed internet-using children aged 12-17 had experienced clear instances of online sexual exploitation and abuse in the year prior to being surveyed. This includes children being offered gifts or money in exchange for sexual images and videos or sexual acts, being threatened or blackmailed to engage in sexual acts, and having their sexual images shared without their permission. If scaled to the population, the research estimates that at least 300,000 children across the country were subjected to these forms of violence. 

The Disrupting Harm in Mozambique report also found that: 

  • 26% of children had been sent unwanted sexual images in the year prior to being surveyed. 
    • 70% of these children reported feeling scared, angry, annoyed, embarrassed, or guilty about it. 
    • 60% of these instances occurred online, primarily via social media platforms.
  • 19% of children were subjected to sexual comments made about them that made them feel uncomfortable in the past year. The offender was most often someone they knew. 
  • 11% of children were asked to share photos or videos showing their private parts in the past year.
    • 59% of these children reported receiving them via social media. 

Disrupting Harm in Mozambique found that children lack the necessary knowledge on how to stay safe online. 60% of internet-using children had never received any information on how to stay safe online. Additionally, only 43% of children surveyed knew how to report harmful content on social media. A frontline worker interviewed for Disrupting Harm said that “there is no sharing of information on how a child should use social networks and how to protect from offenders of online child sexual exploitation and abuse.”

Disrupting Harm in Mozambique found law enforcement agencies lacked the capacity to tackle online child sexual exploitation and abuse, which in turn may impede effective investigations. 22% of frontline workers indicated that law enforcement awareness was poor and three government representatives told Disrupting Harm researchers that the majority of the law enforcement officers are not trained to deal with cases of online child sexual exploitation and abuse and that there is a lack of appropriate equipment, human, and financial resources. 

Disrupting Harm in Mozambique found that with the exception of psychological services, the overall availability and quality of medical, legal, and reintegration services for child victims of online child sexual exploitation and abuse were rated as poor by frontline social support workers and that stronger action was needed.   

The report recommends urgent action, education, and support to tackle online child sexual exploitation and abuse, including:

  • Delivering national-scale awareness and education programmes about online child sexual exploitation and children and ensuring that these campaigns and programmes reach different groups including the most vulnerable. Programmes should target children in rural areas of Mozambique, as the report found that 66% of children in rural areas said they never received information about how to stay safe online. 
  • Creating awareness around community-level mechanisms for disclosure and reporting of online child sexual exploitation and abuse. The Disrupting Harm in Mozambique report found children were likely to disclose abuse to those in their personal networks, e.g. friends and caregivers. According to children who were subjected to online sexual exploitation and abuse, a major barrier to disclosure is not knowing where to go or who to tell. Therefore, it is vital to promote the range of formal services available to children. 


Read the full report here and explore more information under the Country Reports tab.

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About Disrupting Harm

In early 2019, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, through its Safe Online initiative, invested $7 million to develop Disrupting Harm, a holistic and innovative research project that aims to better understand how digital technology facilitates the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

Safe Online brought together and funded three organisations – ECPAT, INTERPOL and the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti – to undertake new research in 13 countries across Eastern and Southern Africa and Southeast Asia. This type of holistic research and assessment is new and unique in that it uses a multi-sector approach and the specific expertise of these three global agencies and their local partners. The methodology developed for these assessments has been implemented across the 13 countries and can be used by other countries in the future.


What is online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA)?

Online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA) refers to situations involving digital, internet and communication technologies at some point during the continuum of abuse or exploitation. OCSEA can occur fully online or through a mix of online and in-person interactions between offenders and children.