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

Behind the Scenes: Staff Perspectives and Insights

ECPAT International Annual Report 2022-2023

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Over the past year, ECPAT International has achieved momentous progress in its unyielding quest to eradicate the sexual exploitation of children.

This journey has been characterised by significant collaborative efforts, innovative approaches, and an unwavering commitment from our diverse team spread across the globe. Whether advocating for policy changes at high-level forums or pioneering new safeguarding technologies, the collective resilience and intellectual vigour displayed have been outstanding. 

Our work has thrived on valuable collaborations with various partners, opening new avenues for impactful interventions and creating a constructive collaboration that profoundly resonates within our network. Each achievement serves as both an organisational milestone and reflection of our commitment., reflecting the depth of passion and creativity that fuel our daily efforts. After recent visits to Turkey and Uzbekistan that were instrumental in revitalising member engagement and laying the groundwork for future initiatives in the region, Stana Buchowska, Regional Coordinator Eastern Europe & and Central Asia, aptly puts it “I am deeply honoured by the tapestry of achievements we have woven together.” 

Collaboration and Impact

This year, the spirit of collaboration has not merely been an undercurrent but a powerful driving force behind our progress at ECPAT International. Together, we have coalesced around shared visions and objectives, finding unique strength in our diverse cultural perspectives and experiences. The synergies we have built have allowed us to learn from diverse cultures and societies, providing a richer context to our work and efforts. 

A shining and illustrative example of this collaborative ethos was the training workshop held in Abidjan emerged as a beacon of effective collaboration with knowledgeable and motivated local partners. It became an arena for mutual sharing and understanding, fostering a sense of community and partnership to understand the sexual exploitation of children in contexts of travel, that transcended boundaries. As Amy Crocker, Head of Child Protection and Technology, astutely reflects,

“You learn every day, remain humble, and see the humanity that can break through the power of money and politics.” 

Yet our collaboration did not stop at one-off meetings and workshops. It was extended, woven into the very fabric of our day-to-day operations, manifesting through strategic partnerships, joint research initiatives, cross-border cooperation, and work with stakeholders from diverse sectors. This broader collaboration has infused our mission with renewed energy and focus, enabling us to achieve more significant and more profound change on a global scale. 

A particularly touching and resonant illustration of this comes from Francesco Cecon, Head of the Global Boys Initiative, who emphasises our capacity to translate theory into practice. “I think the main highlights have been seeing how we transformed ground-breaking research into concrete actions,” he states. His words underline the tangible change that has stemmed from our collaborative approach, reflecting the passion and purpose that drive our collective efforts. 

Our unswerving advocacy for children continues to drive change, evolving in line with the challenges and opportunities that present themselves. The impact of this dedication extends far beyond our immediate network, reaching into communities where our members provide essential services. These efforts represent a tangible embodiment of our values and goals, a sentiment that Adriana Hidalgo poignantly captures:

“We are an organisation that works in a very specialised area; this aspect allows the possibility to give added value to society for a better world for children.” 

The successes and milestones we have achieved through collaboration are integral to our journey. They remind us that we are part of a global movement, bound by shared beliefs, values, and a relentless commitment to creating a world where children’s rights are protected, respected, and fulfilled. Our approach to collaboration has illuminated a path that promises not only sustained progress but also hope for the children we strive to serve. 

This year has presented its share of unique circumstances, yet they have served as catalysts for our team’s ingenuity and resilience. Our commitment to our mission has been unwavering, even as we adapted to new modes of operation and collaboration. 

A prime illustration of our adaptability is the “Disrupting Harm” project, conducted in partnership with UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti and Interpol. Far from being a small undertaking, this global initiative demanded coordinated efforts across multiple disciplines and geographical regions. Matteo Russo, our Legal Research Associate, described it as a pinnacle of resourceful collaboration, embodying the innovation that has been a hallmark of our success. 

This same resilience permeates all aspects of our work, inspiring us to find pragmatic and empathetic solutions to each challenge. Whether mastering new communication platforms or optimising our resources for maximum impact, our team has consistently demonstrated its ability to not just adapt but excel.  

Far from hindering our progress, the experiences of the past year have enriched our collective wisdom. They have solidified our belief in the power of unity, diversity, and purpose, underscoring our unwavering commitment to creating lasting change for children worldwide. 

Proudest Achievements 

The achievements of this year are a testament to our relentless commitment and determination. Amongst our proudest accomplishments are the thriving Beacon team in the EU (European Union), the pioneering initiation of the Global Boys Initiative, and the robust reinforcement of ECPAT’s relevance within global institutions. Our Regional Coordinator EU, Isaline, has been at the forefront, leading a passionate coalition advocating for child safety online. Her joy and pride were eloquently expressed when she stated, “I was particularly pleased by the positive feedback from policymakers about the added value of the ECPAT network contribution.”

Alongside these tangible successes, the words of our own Amy resonate deeply, reflecting our unyielding spirit:

“That is where courage begins; courage to speak out, speak loud, and bring evidence to drive the change we want and need to see.”

Our collective achievements echo far and wide, a reflection of the dedicated effort and commitment to our cause. 

Future Vision

As we look to the future, our vision is clear and focused, filled with hope, promise, and aspiration. We envision a future where ECPAT’s mission resonates beyond boundaries and reaches an even grander scale. In Natasha’s astute observation, “ECPAT continually seeks its most impactful path, demonstrating the wisdom to pause, reassess, and ensure every action has purpose.”

Kohnwilai Teppunkoonngam’s voice resonates with our collective mission, stating:

“A future where ECPAT offers effective recovery and prevention services with the active engagement of affected children.”

This powerful sentiment underscores the dual pillars of our work as illustrated in projects like Disrupting Harm: first, the irrefutable right and ability of children to have their voices heard in shaping protective measures and advocating for their best interests; and second, the essential role of collaboration with ECPAT networks and other partners in facilitating children’s journeys towards ending sexual exploitation and embarking on a path to recovery. Our roadmap is detailed and deliberate, etched with our collective ambitions and the will to bring about profound, lasting change. 

In concluding the extraordinary chapter of ECPAT International this year, we reflect on a story rich in empowerment, dynamic engagement, innovative practices, and a profound impact that reaches everywhere.

Ours is not merely a tale of milestones met; it is the story of a community united in purpose, a radiant story of hope of a brighter, safer future for children. Our roadmap, ever evolving and pulsating with fresh ideas, innovative strategies, and tangible steps, serves as our guiding light towards that future. And in the heart of all we do, a heartfelt message from Isaline rings true, capturing our collective sentiment and unwavering resolve: “Keep it up with the good work! We need a world where children can be safe!” It is a rallying cry and a heartfelt reminder of why we do what we do, and why we must continue to strive, innovate, and care. 

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“Being a survivor is about learning to cope. I’m a survivor because I’m still here. It is hard to be a survivor. I put so much effort into it and people. You need to have some sort of passion in life. I have a passion to live.”

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