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1st Part of the 2011 PACE Ordinary Session, 24-28 January 2011

Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee

Speech by Maud de Boer-Buquicchio,
Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe,
at the first meeting
of the Network of Contact Parliamentarians
to stop sexual violence against children

 

Wednesday, 26 January 2011, 2 pm

Madam Chairperson,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Last November, we launched in Rome the Council of Europe “One in Five” campaign to eliminate sexual violence against children. I am delighted to see the Parliamentary Assembly fully on board in this campaign and I am most grateful to you for having volunteered to act as contact parliamentarians in your respective countries.

As you know, the campaign has two main objectives:

Our first objective is to obtain the signature, ratification and implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (the Lanzarote Convention).

The Lanzarote Convention is a groundbreaking treaty that contains all the measures needed to prevent sexual violence, protect children and end ensures with the impunity of the criminals.

The handbook that will be presented in a few minutes is an excellent guide to this Convention and convincingly explains the background to each of its provisions. I encourage you to use it as a tool to promote the Lanzarote Convention in your countries and beyond, should you have the opportunity to do so.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is more than an “awareness-raising campaign”. This is an “empowering campaign”. The second objective of the campaign is indeed to equip children, parents and professionals working with them with the knowledge and tools they need to prevent and report sexual violence.
To do so, we are collecting and disseminating information and good practices, we are promoting networking and making available expertise and advice. We are also developing “prêt-à-porter” material targeting children and their families, providing advice on how to discuss this very sensitive issue.
The “Underwear Rule” material, including a TV spot, a website and a book for children is enjoying a great success. Thanks to the non-profit Association “Act responsible”, the TV spot will be aired by Euronews several times a day during the next four months, reaching over 199 million households in 130 countries.

Sexual abuse scandals are hitting the headlines of virtually all countries in Europe. They very often reveal the lacunae in legislation, the weaknesses of child protection policies and the absence of awareness and prevention programmes. They also show that sexual violence is a complex, sensitive, widespread phenomenon which can only be addressed if all social and political forces join efforts.

This is why we have invited our governments to set up national campaign teams which would involve all relevant stakeholders at national level, including, of course, national parliaments. I would be most grateful if you could support the launching of campaigns at national level. You could do so by contacting our focal points in the governments or any relevant authority in your country.

This is a campaign about a ‘secret’ but should not be a secret campaign. This is why we decided to follow the advice of leading European experts in the fight against sexual violence and in communication and opted for an approach that we knew would generate the much needed public debate.

The campaign approach has already proved its effectiveness. It has also proved that we have to be prepared to display all the arguments and to be challenged in our messages. Therefore, I encourage you to discover our recent publication “Protecting children from sexual violence - A comprehensive approach”, which contains a very interesting selection of expert articles and responses to many of the questions that you may be confronted with.

Dear friends,

I cannot stress enough how important and useful the Parliamentary Assembly efforts invested in challenging child abuse are. I am at your disposal and eager to listen to your suggestions, concerns and achievements. I certainly also look forward to sharing and celebrating with you the results of our joint endeavour.