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Integrated Outreach and Advocacy: A Year in Review

ECPAT International Annual Report 2022-2023

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This annual report’s section on Integrated Outreach and Advocacy stands as a testament to ECPAT International’s enduring commitment to its mission: eradicating child sexual exploitation across the globe.

It serves not merely as a chronicle of the year’s activities but also as an evaluative lens through which stakeholders can examine our accomplishments, challenges, and ongoing initiatives in this critical domain. This exhaustive account reflects the multifaceted nature of our efforts, encompassing a range of strategies from traditional and digital media outputs and grassroots community engagement to high-level policy advocacy, each painstakingly tailored to maximise outcomes.

Communications Outputs

Ending The Silent Podcast 


To commemorate World Tourism Day 2022, we published a special episode delving into the world of voluntourism, why it is harmful to children, and how it increases the risk of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Through interviews with ECPAT members in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, we examined the risks of unregulated tourism on children and share with needs to be done to protect children as part of responsible and sustainable tourism development. 

She Leads 

In this special mini-series, we shone a spotlight on She Leads, a programme dedicated to increasing the sustained influence of girls and young women in decision-making and the transformation of gender norms in formal and informal institutions across Africa and the Middle East. In this series, programme officers and girls and young women discuss how She Leads is working to prevent violence against women and girls. 

She Leads is a joint programme of Plan International Netherlands, Defence for Children – ECPAT the Netherlands (DCI-ECPAT), African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), and Terre des Hommes the Netherlands (TdH). Equal Measures 2030 is a technical partner.

Impact Metrics

Over the past year, ECPAT International’s communications endeavours have culminated in quantifiable and transformative outcomes that go beyond mere statistics. One such strategic decision was to consciously maintain our established presence on Facebook while simultaneously redirecting resources towards growing our footprint on Instagram and LinkedIn to increase community engagement and promote uptake of ECPAT learnings. This calibrated approach bore fruit, manifesting in a 27% growth in our LinkedIn audience and a 12.5% expansion on Instagram without compromising our follower base on Facebook, which also saw a respectable 3% uptick.  

In the broader digital landscape, our website attracted a 13.29% increase on the previous year, thereby extending our digital influence. Media mentions of our network skyrocketed, registering a remarkable 108% increase in traditional media and 111% in social media channels. These figures are not merely numbers but potent symbols of our increasing resonance in public discourse.  

Key Initiatives and Activities

Stakeholder Engagement 

Collaboration remains a cornerstone of our operational ethos. As we navigated through legislative landscapes and pivoted towards innovative modes of advocacy, our focus was to cultivate synergistic relationships both within the ECPAT network and with external partners. 

Global Boys Summit 

The first-ever Global Boys Summit took place in Casablanca, Morocco, bringing together more than 65 practitioners from over 30 countries between June 6-8, 2023. Hosted by ECPAT International and co-organised with ECPAT member AMANE, the Summit aimed to supercharge support for boy survivors and equip practitioners with the best tools for appropriate and quality care. 

The uniqueness of the Summit was rooted in its bottom-up approach. By co-developing the agenda with attendees and collaboratively crafting solutions informed by the experiences and knowledge of everyone, it cultivated an environment of equal participation and contribution from all practitioners involved. 

Through enriching workshops and practical discussions, practitioners transformed their insights, challenges, and ideas into key action points, designed to invigorate action protecting boys at national, regional, and global levels. 

Following the Global Boys Summit, an Outcomes Report and Summary Report has been published summarising the key action points for the way forward.

Outcomes Report
Summary Report

Regional Workshops 

Taking a resolute stance against child sexual exploitation in East and Southern Africa, the ECPAT Regional Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, rallied over 80 participants from 32 countries in May 2023.

Uniting policymakers, academics, civil society representatives, and child protection experts, the workshop unearthed shared challenges faced in combatting child sexual exploitation in the region and enabled participants to combine their unique skills to drive regional solutions.

From strengthening grassroots efforts to moving beyond formal justice systems, the workshop underscored the importance of balancing national policies with localised actions that reach communities, families, and children themselves.

An In-Depth Event Review and Action were published, detailing the key outcomes, workshop highlights, and key actions moving forward. 

In-Depth Event Review
Summary and Action Plan

ECPAT Network and Horizontal Collaboration

This year marked a transformative period for our internal communication infrastructure, enhancing our collaborative advocacy capabilities. A few noteworthy events stand out in the calendar. A two-day meeting in October 2022 with our EU (European Union) members focused on synchronising communication and campaign skills. These efforts culminated in collective campaign activities across ECPAT’s EU chapters and sustained member engagement in ECLAG’s Participatory Group. The afore mentioned Southern and Eastern Africa Regional Workshop in May and hosting the first-ever Global Boys Summit in Morocco in June 2023 are two further examples of where our stakeholder engagement efforts amplified our role as conveners, influencers, and advocates within a global movement and where we proudly facilitated broader and deeper communications within both our network and the broader sector. 

Advocacy and Policy

In terms of advocacy, our “Break Free to Fly” campaign, launched in partnership with Meta, is a testament to our blended advocacy approach, combining grassroots mobilisation with policy advocacy. Our unwavering attention to legislative matters, notably the proposed EU Child Sexual Abuse Regulation, underlines our commitment to effecting tangible change. The elevated levels of member engagement in our advocacy campaigns attest to our success in this sector.

New Publications and Studies

Global Boys Initiative: Case Studies 

Following the research conducted on the sexual exploitation and abuse of boys as part of the Global Boys Initiative, we are now focused on the urgent need to develop tools, guidance, and capacity-strengthening instruments to equip service providers with better tools to work with boys in a gender-sensitive and substantial way. 

In collaboration with ECPAT members and other civil society organisations, 8 case studies were published documenting the diverse practices and approaches of service providers around the world who support at-risk boys and victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. 

Click here to read the case studies. 

Country Overviews 

ECPAT International’s Country Overviews are instrumental in collating and presenting comprehensive information on the sexual exploitation of children in realms such as travel and tourism, online environments, trafficking, prostitution, and child, early, and forced marriage. These overviews not only chronicle the publicly available data but also assess achievements, challenges, and existing counteractions. They further suggest concrete priority actions to address the sexual exploitation of children in the targeted nations. This pivotal work underscores ECPAT’s commitment to ensuring that our advocacy is both informed and pragmatic, consistently driving towards tangible change. 

Côte d’Ivoire 
Dominican Republic 

Joint Country Overviews

In late 2022, ECPAT International joined forces with the Secretariat of the Lanzarote Committee to co-produce three Joint Country Overviews on the sexual abuse and exploitation of children in Moldova, Finland, and Italy. The Joint Country Overviews combine ECPAT’s longstanding work on Country Overviews with the information retrieved from the Governments by the Lanzarote Committee Secretariat. 

This partnership between ECPAT International and the Lanzarote Committee Secretariat enabled us to present compelling information regarding State’s compliance with the standards set forth in the Lanzarote Convention, while collating all available data on sexual exploitation and abuse of children in a well-structured and concise report geared towards advocacy and more general and pragmatic use. 

Finland Country Overview
Moldova Country Overview

Disrupting Harm: Conversations with Young Survivors 

Disrupting Harm: Conversations with Young Survivors about Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse centres the perspectives of young survivors of online child sexual exploitation and abuse. The conversations focus on understanding and interpreting what these young people were subjected to, as well as their ideas concerning the best solutions. Insights and key messages were collected from thirty-three conversations held with female and male young people who had been subjected to online child sexual exploitation and abuse in Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, Malaysia, and Cambodia. 

The conversations were conducted by ECPAT International in the framework of the Disrupting Harm project, the largest scale comprehensive research study ever undertaken on the topic of online child sexual exploitation on abuse. Funded by the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, the study focused on 13 countries in Southeast Asia and Southern and East Africa between 2019 and 2022. The study is a collaboration between ECPAT, INTERPOL, and the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti. 

Read the report 

Member Highlights

Member Highlights from the Global Landscape

Within our diverse movement there is a kaleidoscope of initiatives, hurdles, and accomplishments that our member organisations have navigated in their relentless campaign against the sexual exploitation of children. Here, we offer a window into their work, highlighting the inventive approaches they have adopted and the invaluable wisdom they have garnered in the process. 

International Day for Street Children: An Interview with Association Keoogo
Child Trafficking in Peru: An Interview with CHS Alternativo
Child Trafficking in Thailand: An Interview with ECPAT Foundation
Child Trafficking in Nepal: An Interview with Shakti Samuha 

Introducing Our Newest Members

Since the start of 2023, we have welcomed four organisations to the ECPAT global network. Hailing from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Republic of Cabo Verde, Zambia, and Côte d’Ivoire, these dynamic additions bring with them unique expertise and perspectives in the realm of child protection. Learn more about the organisations below:

ACRIDES, Cape Verde  
Established in January 1998, Associação Crianças Desfavorecidas (ACRIDES) is a network organisation based in Cape Verde working to promote the rights and responsibilities of children. With 7 network members, the organisation primarily focuses on education, health, and social protection initiatives conducted at local and national levels.

Association Keoogo, Burkina Faso  
Association Keoogo is an organisation based in Ouagadougou aiming to provide protection services to street-living children, women, and other vulnerable groups. The word “Keoogo” is borrowed from the national language Mooré, meaning “initiatory space.” In traditional Mossi society, Keoogo refers to the journey from childhood to adulthood and the values transmitted along.  

Children’s Voice, Democratic Republic of Congo  
Founded in 2002, Children’s Voice is a non-profit organisation working for the protection of children by defending their rights and ensuring their access to basic services such as education, vocational training, access to justice for the sustainable development of their communities. Children’s Voice is based in Goma and operates in six provinces in the east of the country.

Communauté Abel, Côte d’Ivoire  
Established in 1982, Communauté Abel is an Ivorian non-profit organisation supporting vulnerable children through cultural initiatives, counselling services, educational programmes, and professional training for boys and girls aged 14-21. Communauté Abel is the local branch of the Italian association ‘Gruppo Abele Onlus’ and is based in Grand Bassam, where it has been operating for more than 40 years.

Ubuchingo Defence For Children – Zambia, Zambia
“Ubuchingo” is a word in Bemba, a local Zambian language which translates to ‘protection’. In 2009, a few professional women started a small association in Northern Province to speak up against child sexual abuse, which had become a huge problem in their area. The women not only spoke for the girls and young women but also provided legal help and support to the victims. After many years of interventions, the association received an overwhelming response and recognition, and decided to take on a more significant challenge by registering the association. Ubuchingo then joined and became a member of Defence for Children International and became Ubuchingo Defence For Children – Zambia. Ubuchingo’s work focuses mainly on justice for children, ending violence against children, and children on the move, including trafficking, disability, child participation and the right to play. 

SUSTAIN Cameroon, Cameroon
SUSTAIN Cameroon is actively engaged in transforming the lives of children trapped in abusive child early and forced marriages, sexual exploitation, trafficking and modern slavery. Through education, training, and economic empowerment programmes, they work to empower survivors, victims and those at risk. 

SUSTAIN Cameroon also provides, through training and engaging youth in community service, a voice space for hard-to-reach youths, women, and girls in disadvantaged situations throughout North-West Cameroon. The organisation is focused on building future activists from present-day children and youths.

Challenges and Learnings

As we forge ahead, our horizons are replete with untapped opportunities and pressing challenges, both requiring nuanced strategies. The dynamism of the digital landscape offers us unprecedented avenues to sculpt narratives and amplify our advocacy efforts. The potency of storytelling is a remarkable asset. By centring compelling narratives around our frontline workers and network members, we not only humanise our cause but also fortify our influence over public perception. 

In the European Union, emerging regulations present both a challenge and an opportunity. While these frameworks hold promise for the prevention of online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA), we still grapple with resistance and the uncertainty of the outcomes. It is crucial to underscore the importance of continued support for our campaign, as these regulations could pave the way for more robust measures against OCSEA across jurisdictions. 

However, our ambitions are not without their constraints. Financial limitations remain a pertinent obstacle in scaling our advocacy and communication efforts. Furthermore, there is the social and cultural challenge of countering deeply ingrained ‘victim-blaming’ narratives, requiring not just communication finesse but also a coordinated, multi-faceted approach. 

Amidst these complexities, we are redoubling our efforts and commitment to engage more systematically with children, amplifying their voices and offering them opportunities to participate directly in policy developments. This initiative serves as another cornerstone in our strategy, ensuring that those most affected by our work have an active role in shaping it. 

Balancing Research and Storytelling

In the ever-evolving landscape of campaigning and advocacy, we recognised the importance of balancing research with stories unfolding on the ground. While data and evidence form the backbone of our work, it is the personal stories that humanise the very issues we strive to address. 

Over the past year, we have actively embraced this constructive interaction by highlighting stories from both ECPAT members and child survivors of sexual exploitation. These stories have not only enhanced our work, but also deepened our understanding of the issues we champion.

Looking Ahead

As we turn our gaze to the future, it is evident that ECPAT’s Outreach and Advocacy mechanisms have undergone a transformative evolution, crystallising into a nuanced strategic framework that is committed to amplifying both awareness and palpable results.

Our journey has not been without its obstacles; indeed, we confront myriad challenges ranging from resource limitations to intrinsic structural issues. Yet, it is precisely these challenges that offer us the most fertile ground for growth, refinement, and recalibration of our approaches. As we traverse this complex landscape, our ultimate triumph resides not merely in amplifying our message but in effecting authentic, grassroots change. This underscores our core ethos, articulating unequivocally that our true success is measured not just in the discourse we shape but in the systemic changes we catalyse. 

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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