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Republic of Moldova: Council of Europe-ECPAT Country Overview highlights the need for more resources to tackle child sexual abuse and exploitation

Posted on May 4, 2023


Chisinau / Moldova, 4 May 2023—More resources need to be devoted in the Republic of Moldova to identifying and supporting victims of child sexual exploitation, including from the most vulnerable groups, according to a joint Council of Europe and ECPAT International Country Overview released today.

The Overview underlines that the country’s socio-economic situation and high migration rates have left many children vulnerable to violence, neglect, and exploitation. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has added further strain to the Moldovan child protection system, with refugee children facing heightened risks of trafficking and exploitation. 

While the Republic of Moldova has comprehensive criminal legislation against child sexual abuse and exploitation and has recently approved the creation of a Specialised Commission for the coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the Lanzarote Convention, the Country Overview identifies a number of issues that still need to be addressed. 

Reporting of sexual offences remains low and child-friendly justice procedures would benefit from further improvement. There has been a significant increase in sexual abuse and exploitation of children facilitated by technology: out of the 1,745 calls made in the first half of 2021 to the online platform that provides counselling to children who experienced online sexual abuse, 89% (1,554) of the calls were from children. Most of reports referred to sexual extortion.  

Furthermore, traditional norms and beliefs in the country contribute to the lack of awareness around gender-based violence among the country’s child population. 

The Country Overview contains suggested ways forward to further improve the protection of children from sexual exploitation and abuse in the Republic of Moldova, including: 

  • Closing existing loopholes, such as the provision that requires offenders who benefit from sexual services provided by children to know for certain that the child is below 18. 
  • Enhancing protection for children in the context of travel and tourism. 
  • Establishing a single entity responsible for coordinating all online child safety efforts.  
  • Integrating education on the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation into the core curriculum rather than offering it as an optional subject. 
  • Improving access to justice for child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation, with a focus on simplifying legal procedures and increasing child-friendly practices within the justice sector. 
  • Putting in place mechanisms to involve children in developing and implementing state policies, programmes, or initiatives concerning the fight against child sexual abuse and exploitation, taking into account their evolving capacity. 

The document was presented today at an event in Chisinau, bringing together representatives of national authorities, civil society organisations, Council of Europe and ECPAT International to discuss its main findings and recommendations. 

Summary of the Country Overview (English) – Full Country Overview (English and Romanian)
Contacts: Jaime Rodriguez, Spokesperson/Media Officer, Council of Europe, 33 390 21 47 04 

Note to the editors

In 2022, the Council of Europe and ECPAT International joined forces to prepare a series of Country Overviews covering the states parties to the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention)The Overviews aim to shed light on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitation and abuse of children and suggest concrete action to better protect children across states. They are prepared in close collaboration with the national authorities and are based on the information submitted through a general overview questionnaire, earlier recommendations adopted by the Lanzarote Committee, and desk-based research to take into account the progress recently made.  

Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading human rights organisation. It has 46 member states, including all members of the European Union. All Council of Europe member states have signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty designed to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law. All member states have also ratified the Lanzarote Convention.  

ECPAT International Secretariat
ECPAT International is a global network of more than 124 civil society organisations, in more than 100 countries, working towards the vision of ending the sexual exploitation of children. With over 30 years of experience in engaging and managing multi-stakeholder processes and partnerships at the national, regional and global levels, ECPAT works to end the sexual exploitation of children.