These are 10 success stories that took us closer to our vision: a world free from child sexual exploitation. These achievements cover ECPAT’s work between July 2018 and June 2019.
With a network spanning across the globe, we were able to act fast when we received a tip that Nepali girls were being exploited as dancers in Malawi. A joint effort from our network partners led to a rescue operation, and the girls were safely returned home.
Through our close collaboration with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the African Union and the ECPAT network, the first-ever Day of General Discussion* on the sexual exploitation of children online in Africa took place.
*A Day of General discussion is held every two years and is focused on a specific article of the Convention on the Rights of the Child or a related subject. These meetings are an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the contents and implications of the convention.
ECPAT is systematically working together with members to strengthen their advocacy skills when their countries are up for review* by the Committee on the Rights of the Child or through the Universal Periodic Review** process. This year, we provided technical and logistic support to 25 members in drafting their alternative reports.
* The Committee on the Rights of the Child reviews how countries are fulfilling their commitment to protect children’s rights through the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
* * The Universal Periodic Review process gives States an opportunity to declare what actions they have taken to fulfill their obligations to uphold children’s rights in their country.
For us, it is important that facts about child sexual exploitation get out there, and we are working on making it happen by sharing stories that are interesting for everybody. In the last year, we increased our social media reach by 68% and our unique website visitors by 29%.
Our research and Country Overview reports are not only instrumental for raising awareness, but also serve as advocacy tools that push governments to strengthen their work to protect children. Following an ECPAT report on the situation for children in Ireland, the government took important steps to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. This was a huge success — not only for us, but more importantly for children in Ireland!
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has long been concerned that States are failing to properly implement the optional protocol to protect children from sexual exploitation. An expert working group, in collaboration with ECPAT, developed a new set of guidelines to give concrete advice and examples on how to do it.
“The difficulties in tackling the sexual exploitation of children are magnified by the use of the darknet and its anonymity and encryption services. Networks with the intention to harm children are spanning across multiple countries and jurisdictions which is a challenge for law enforcement.”
— Robbert van den Berg, Executive Director at ECPAT International
Experts from ECPAT International trained police from around the world on how to better protect children from sexual exploitation. Officers from INTERPOL, governments, UN partners, academia, the private sector and law enforcement officials from 20 countries were in participation.
Southeast Asian countries agreed to a legal checklist to bolster their laws in tackling the growing problem of child sexual exploitation in the context of travel and tourism.
The strategy is still to be endorsed by all member states of the South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Children; however, some members have started to take further action and develop their own national action plans to ensure that they are doing everything in their power to eliminate child sexual exploitation.
10. MORE New Members JOINED the code
ECPAT’s engagement with private sector companies saw some huge successes for building partnerships with The Code. 54 new member companies from 22 countries joined in the last year.