The state authorities fail in ensuring the rehabilitation of children – victims of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, the intervention services for offenders are missing, the prevention measures are not sufficient for raising-awareness on the subject and the protection of children victims of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse is still challenging. These are just some of the conclusions and subsequently - recommendations that may be found in the in-depth analysis made by the International Center ,,La Strada” Moldova.
In the context of the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, the International Center ,,La Strada” published a research that examined the implementation of the Lanzarote Convention, after five years of ratification, by Moldova. ,,This analysis emphasizes some strategic shortcomings which prove the fact that the authorities do not show enough interest in making efforts in order to combat the sexual violence against children. So we established that the government lacks an overall policy that would set the exact responsibilities and obligations of each institution that would allow the implementation of the assumed commitments, the monitoring and the evaluation of the performed actions. There is a lack of unified, qualitative data on incidents of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation, the study shows that the authorities have not yet manifested serious intentions to identify the risk factors or new trends of the phenomenon”, was mentioned by Ana Revenco, the president of the International Center ,,La Strada”.
According to the provisions of the Lanzarote Convention, the Government of the Republic of Moldova should implement educational measures in order to ensure that children receive information on the risks of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. This information should be provided within a more general context of information on sexuality, adapted to their evolving capacity.
,,Each Party is required to put intro a broader context the education of children, outlining the need to ensure adequate primary and secondary education for children on sexual education and risks involving the use of new information and communication technologies. Unfortunately, the authorities delay to implement these measures. Furthermore, the specialists in contact with children in the education, health, social protection, judicial and law-enforcement sectors and in areas relating to sport, culture and leisure activities are not trained on the topic of child sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. Consequently, this fact leads to the impossibility to report early signs of possible child sexual exploitation and sexual abuse cases. Both children and adults should be aware of child sexual exploitation and should know how to prevent it”, says one of the authors – Botezatu Elena.
There are some challenges that authorities face in ensuring the protection of the victims. There are no comprehensive and long-term rehabilitation and reintegration programs for childrenwho have suffered from sexual exploitation and abuse, such as child trafficking for sexual purposes, involvement in prostitution and pornography, or the production of sexual abuse material. ,,Crisis intervention services at night, at weekends, as well as mobile and multidisciplinary services are lacking, so the intervention is not possible in order to protect the children’s rights”, explained Elena Botezatu.
The legal framework for online sexual abuse is also recording shortcomings. ,,Equally serious are the legislative gaps that allow the abusers to avoid criminal liability in cases of child abuse. Because it includes serious crimes, we insist that the authorities review this issue”, said Natalia Bayram, lawyer at the organization. Moreover, the sexual violence against children is one of the most serious forms of violence against children and this requires the elaboration of a special law clearly establishing the competent institutions and their obligations in the areas of prevention, investigation and protection of children against abuse and sexual exploitation”, continued the lawyer.
With regard to measures designed for sexual abusers, it was found that the state did not develop assistance and intervention programs for persons subject to criminal proceedings for any of the offences established in accordance with the Convention, but also any programs outside the prison that would prevent or minimize the risks of repeated offences of a sexual nature against children.
In the spirit of the Convention, La Strada Moldova NGO recommends the development of counseling services for children victims and for persons that fear that they might commit any of the offences established in accordance with the Lanzarote Convention. Also, there should be created local services that would provide qualified assistance to children victims of sexual offenses, including complex services for a long period of time in order to rehabilitate and socially reintegrate.
In schools, but also through informational campaigns, a minimum of sexual education for children and adolescents must be ensured, so that they are able to develop their resilience to exploitation and abuse. The safe use of information technologies must be explicit in the school curriculum. Moreover, as the Lanzarote Convention requires, children should be consulted when issuing their public policies.
The executive summary and the integral report may be found on http://lastrada.md/ .