18th of November: European Day Against Child Sexual Abuse
Sofía Medina Sánchez
International Justice and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
The 18th of November marks the European Day against child sexual abuse, which was initiated by the Council of Europe in 2015. In 2022, aligning with a worldwide campaign for awareness and advocacy, the United Nations designated November 18th as the World Day for the prevention and recovery from child sexual exploitation, abuse, and violence.
Ahead of this day, Marija Pejčinović Burić, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, has urged Member States to increase their involvement with victims and survivors of childhood sexual violence. This initiative aims to break the silence surrounding the reporting of sexual violence, ultimately enhancing the protection of children.
The Lanzarote Convention, officially titled the Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, is globally acknowledged as the highest standard for combating these atrocious crimes.
Marija Pejčinović Burić emphasised that child sexual exploitation or abuse is never the child’s fault. However, the shame and stigma often lead children to keep their trauma hidden until adulthood, leaving them vulnerable and perpetrators unpunished. She stressed the crucial need to break the cycle of silence, encourage survivors to speak out, and learn from their experiences. Burić highlighted that survivors can provide valuable insights for policymaking.
Sources and further Reading:
Council of Europe, Newsroom, European day against child sexual abuse: stronger engagement with victims and survivors needed to stop stigmatisation and prevent further crime, says Secretary General, 17 November 2023: https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/european-day-against-child-sexual-abuse-stronger-engagement-with-victims-and-survivors-needed-to-stop-stigmatisation-and-prevent-further-crime-says-secretary-general
Council of Europe, Children’s rights, 18 November: European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse - 2023 Edition: Learning from victims/survivors of childhood sexual violence to inspire policy change: https://www.coe.int/en/web/children/2023-edition
Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (CETS No. 201), Lanzarote 25 October 2007 : https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list?module=signatures-by-treaty&treatynum=2