Ending Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
Even as online sexual exploitation grows, children, especially those living in poverty, are most susceptible to physical sexual coercion. An estimated 20 percent (one in five) of children experience at least one form of sexual exploitation or abuse in childhood. During the pandemic, this number increased greatly as schools were closed.
GNRC members, moved by the plight of child victims, and compelled by religious commitments, work around the clock to end all forms of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Our programs aim to give children a voice and platform to speak out against the harms they experience.
Education/Sensitization: GNRC members in urban and rural areas conduct sensitization workshops to sensitize communities on sexual exploitation and abuse of children. GNRC USA, in partnership with the Mama Bear Effect, has conducted several training workshops for parents on preventing child sexual abuse. GNRC India, in partnership with Shanti Ashram, also sensitizes communities on the dangers of early marriages and sexual exploitation. And in Africa, Youth Advocates Ghana (YAG), in partnership with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, held a community sensitization program on commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in Oparekrom, Ghana.
Advocacy: In Asia, GNRC Pakistan led by Search for Justice/CAN Pakistan, has been lobbying parliament for the increase in the minimum age of marriage for all girls in Pakistan, from 16 to 18 years. In Punjab, the network is pushing for prohibition of child labor and the formulation of a child protection policy and plan of action to address all forms of violence against children.
Across the border, GNRC India has been holding online interactive sessions on child abuse, child marriage and teen pregnancies. These interfaith sessions have included emotional mapping activities that let child participants express the difficulties they underwent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Europe, GNRC Bosnia and Herzegovina likewise have made tremendous efforts to advocate for children’s rights and prevent abuse through interfaith collaboration.
In Africa, GNRC Tanzania in partnership with End Child Poverty, Prayer and Action for Children, Ethics Education for Children, and other local partners are fighting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), early marriages, and sexual abuse. GNRC Tanzania is actively pushing for an amendment of the Marriage Law of 1971 Act no 13, which puts the age of marriage for females at 15 years.
Tackling online abuse: In 2018, GNRC held an inter-faith forum for five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa on the prevention and end of online child exploitation and violence. The forum, held in Nairobi, was part of a larger, global conference organized under the patronage of His Highness Sh. Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi’s Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities, in collaboration with Arigatou International, and other global partners.
Individual country networks continue to conduct regular training and a wide variety of activities to sensitize on the dangers of online sexual exploitation of children. GNRC Rwanda, for example, held a workshop for over 600 children in partnership with the Umbrella for the Vulnerable in Rwanda. GNRC Guatemala, likewise, has held dialogues and trainings with children and interfaith leaders, while the GNRC Committee in the Dominican Republic has been using radio to get the message out.
In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), country networks have jointly formed “Cyber-care” to protect children living in the region against the dangers of the digital world. GNRC LAC members participated in the Global Forum on Child Safeguarding in Faith Communities, organized by Arigatou International and other partners. Participants explored various avenues through which children can be encouraged and equipped to stand up for themselves and break the silence against spiritual abuse, sexual exploitation, and any other form of violence and abuse.
Strategic planning for the protection of children: A key recommendation from the 2020 GNRC Assessment is the development of strategic plans by country networks that will guide their advocacy work. In Africa, GNRC Comoros, UNICEF, and other leading children-focused organizations have partnered to develop a strategic plan to streamline and guide child-protection work in the country. GNRC–Ecuador, meanwhile, has convened a working group to develop a methodological framework and handbook for faith communities working to prevent sexual violence against children.