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

Charting our Course: Introductory Message from our Executive Director

ECPAT International Annual Report 2022-2023

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In a world marked by unprecedented advancements, the sexual exploitation of children stands as a stark reminder of the battles yet to be won.

Despite dedicated endeavours by networks like ECPAT International, the issue persists, with recent challenges such as the pandemic further magnifying its scale. Civil societies worldwide remain embattled, with their effectiveness contingent on robust infrastructure and adequate funding, both of which face increasing threats from a shifting global landscape. 

With rapid technological progress, new avenues for exploitation have emerged, outpacing protective policy developments, especially in safeguarding our young. However, amid this daunting backdrop, entities such as the European Union have catalysed essential debates on technology-facilitated exploitation, offering platforms for grassroots organisations to champion child protection. ECPAT, with its expansive affiliations from inter-governmental bodies to UN factions, is leading the charge, harnessing decades of expertise and its rich human resource pool. 

The past year has been pivotal. From addressing overlooked areas in humanitarian crises to ensuring the private sector’s proactive role in child protection, ECPAT continues to redefine its innovative stance. As we delve deeper into this report, reflecting on our collective journey, it is with a resolute spirit that we envisage a future where children worldwide are shielded from exploitation’s dark shadows. 

In the tapestry of global movements dedicated to child protection, ECPAT International emerges as a luminous thread, weaving narratives of resilience, innovation, and unwavering dedication. As we reflect upon the strides made over the past year, our journey towards eradicating child sexual exploitation reveals stories of impactful research, passionate staff commitment, influential outreach, strategic programme development, the poignant voices of young survivors, responsible financial stewardship, and an ever-evolving network, all converging towards a shared vision. 

Central to our mission is the power of research. Our “Disrupting Harm” initiative, a testament to collaboration with leaders like UNICEF and INTERPOL, has been instrumental in bringing survivor insights to the forefront. Through Country Overviews and contributions to key global reports, we have not only fuelled national dialogues but have also transformed research into actionable advocacy, ensuring that each project resonates deeply at the grassroots level. 

Yet, it is the human force behind ECPAT that truly drives our momentum. Our diverse global team, with its unique blend of passion and expertise, has propelled ECPAT’s vision into tangible results, from advocating significant policy changes to expanding our footprint into new territories like Turkey and Uzbekistan. Our modus operandi lies in turning insights into actions, a sentiment echoed in projects like “Disrupting Harm” and the establishment of trailblazing teams like the Beacon unit in the European Union. 

While our internal dynamics lay a sturdy foundation, it is our external engagement that amplifies our reach. 2022 saw us galvanise our outreach and advocacy efforts, bringing pressing issues to the limelight, be it the risks associated with voluntourism or the empowerment of young women in underrepresented regions. Our digital growth, fortified media presence, and dialogue with gaming industry only underscore our commitment to merging traditional and contemporary platforms for advocacy. 

From a programme standpoint, we have been at the forefront of spotlighting pressing concerns, whether it is the often-overlooked plight of young boys through the Global Boys Initiative or the engagement with neglected actors in the child protection systems like the transport industry, sport federations or religious seminaries. Our endeavours in the travel and tourism sectors have set benchmarks for child protection, indicating that we are not only identifying issues but also providing tools for change. 

Central to our narrative is the echo of children’s voices, which reverberate with tales of fortitude, resilience, and resurgence. From the lanes of Nepal to the virtual spaces in Chile, these young voices, coupled with the unwavering support from ECPAT’s members, stand as living testimonies to our mission’s importance. 

Our financial narrative paints a picture of trust, commitment, and collaborative vision. Donors, from individuals to large foundations, have played a pivotal role in fuelling our mission, exemplifying the belief that every contribution, no matter its size, catalyses change. 

A panoramic view of our journey would be incomplete without acknowledging our dynamic network development. New allies from Burkina Faso to Zambia have not only expanded our geographical canvas but also infused our mission with fresh perspectives. Despite challenges, our adaptability and thirst for innovation shine through, evident in our strategic initiatives from Latin America to Southeast Asia. 

In summation, the past year has been emblematic of ECPAT International’s steadfast commitment to crafting a safer world for our children. Each chapter in our annual report unfolds a part of our journey, a journey marked by relentless pursuit, collective action, and an indomitable spirit. As we move forward, we are buoyed by the collective power of our network, partners, and the countless individuals who rally behind our cause.

Together, we are not just narrating stories; we are shaping histories, each step echoing our vow to ensure a world free from child sexual exploitation. 

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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.”

– Ally, survivor