EESC calls for urgent action against child sex exploitation and abuse


BRUSSELS (BNO NEWS) — The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on Tuesday called for rapid action to finalize new legislation against children’s sexual exploitation and abuse.

EESC rapporteur Madi Sharma at a public hearing deplored that several member states have yet failed to ratify the relevant Council of Europe document.

The purpose of the hearing, held in connection to a proposed new legislation late September, was to provide other European Union (EU) institutions, international organizations, NGOs (non-governmental organizations), and experts to publicly comment on the new directive and to give information on the current issues surrounding child sexual abuse.

Sharma presented recommendations from civil society which included a repeated call for the EU to sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and the Optional Protocol of the UN CRC on the sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

Sharma also recommended greater emphasis given to prevention measures considered in parallel to legislation and the establishment of a platform to exchange best practices for a greater co-operation with civil society organizations, social partners and NGOs.

“This is an issue which Europe still needs to urgently address and whilst the proposed Directive goes a long way to bringing in new legal measures it does little towards prevention which requires adequate resources and real commitment from member states,” Sharma said.

“The protection of children must be a European priority and with 80 percent of abuse taking place from a trusted source more must be done at local and national level towards prevention.”

The EESC also called for the removal or blocking of child abuse internet websites. The European Commission, Parliament and Council are in powerful and privileged positions to put joint pressure on third countries to demand the removal of such websites.

Whilst the debate on the proposed directive is open, the Committee recommends a uniform minimum age of sexual consent across Europe.

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