The Brave Movement Welcomes Meta Shareholder Concerns about Child Safety on its Social Media Platforms

The Brave Movement Welcomes Meta Shareholder Concerns about Child Safety on its Social Media Platforms

Washington, D.C., May 21, 2024 –  The Brave Movement has welcomed a move by shareholders to raise concerns at Meta’s annual meeting about the social media giant’s approach to child safety.

Meta Shareholder Lisette Cooper PhD, vice chair, has filed a resolution for shareholders to vote on at the annual meeting in Menlo Park, California on May 29, 2024.

Dr. Cooper’s daughter Sarah, is a founding member of the Brave Movement. She is a survivor of child sexual abuse by an older man who misrepresented himself on Facebook Messenger. Sarah Cooper has spoken at two of Meta’s previous annual meetings.

The proposal, filed on behalf of Dr. Cooper and other Meta shareholders by Proxy Impact, calls on Meta’s Board of Directors to adopt targets for reducing harm to children on its social media platforms within one year, as well as quantitative measures for assessing the company’s improvement in this area. The resolution sets out expectations for the Board to publish the metrics in an annual report and for the company to be judged by investors and stakeholders on how effective Meta’s policies and actions have been in protecting children.

In 13 countries alone, more than 5 million internet using children aged 12 to 17, representing up to 20% of this age group, have experienced online sexual abuse and exploitation in a year.

Recent data highlights the unprecedented levels of online child sexual exploitation and abuse, with the Internet Watch Foundation identifying 2023 as the ‘most extreme year on record’ for child abuse content online.

“Meta is the leading social media company globally, with billions of users but its platforms are posing a threat and harming the safety of children. We support this shareholder resolution and welcome this crucial first step, and the efforts by campaigners and survivors to achieve it – but there is much more to be done. Protecting the safety of children should be prioritized and we will continue to work until we see an end to the harm children face online globally.” – said Dr. Daniela Ligiero, Founder of the Brave Movement.

Online child sexual exploitation and abuse is an escalating issue, not just a challenge; it is an epidemic which demands urgent action. We call on the global tech industry to take bold steps in committing to ending violence against children. The design of digital platforms and services needs to be ‘safe by design’ with children’s safety put at the centre of design and development decisions, rather than the status quo that sees their safety as an afterthought, or not thought at all. Technology companies must adopt a vulnerability lens in their design, development and business processes and do more to advance the adoption of ‘age oriented online safety’ and ‘user protection’ to prevent harm from occurring in the first place. Online violence is preventable, and we cannot afford to delay this any longer. The time for action is now!

About the Brave Movement
Hosted by Together for Girls, the Brave Movement is a survivor-led global movement campaigning to end childhood sexual violence. It is led by 14 powerful survivors and allied partners. It is demanding bold and transformative action to mobilize billions for programs focused on prevention, healing and justice worldwide, abolish statutes of limitation in every nation, and create a safer internet for children.

Media Contact: Marek Pruszewicz – marek@togetherforgirls.org

30 Years of ICPD: Empowering Futures, Protecting Rights

30 Years of ICPD: Empowering Futures, Protecting Rights

By Kanga Rasi, Head of Region, Africa- Brave Movement

The 57th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD57) recently concluded, marking the thirtieth anniversary of the landmark International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). This milestone event provided a critical platform to assess progress, identify persistent challenges, and chart a future course to ensure that sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) remain central to sustainable development efforts.

The Legacy of the ICPD: Progress and Persistent Challenges

Over the past three decades, the ICPD has significantly influenced global health and development policies, leading to notable improvements in maternal health, longevity, and overall well-being. However, as highlighted during CPD57, progress has been uneven and often fails to reach the most marginalized communities. Particularly concerning is the ongoing issue of sexual violence against children, both offline and online, a grave violation that demands urgent attention and action.

Integrating SRHR in Humanitarian Responses

As Diana Moreno emphasized at the conference, integrating SRHR into humanitarian responses is crucial, especially in times of crisis. The vulnerabilities of women and girls are exacerbated during such periods, making it imperative to ensure their protection and access to necessary health services. This integration is a moral obligation and a strategic necessity for building resilient communities.

Addressing Sexual Violence Against Children: A Survivor-Centric Approach

Sexual violence against children remains a distressing reality worldwide, necessitating a survivor-centric approach in both policy and practice. This violence occurs both offline and online, with the latter becoming increasingly prevalent in our digital age. It is vital to create safe spaces for survivors to share their experiences and receive comprehensive support, including medical care, psychological counselling, and legal assistance. Healing for survivors is crucial, requiring long-term, sensitive, and trauma-informed care to help them rebuild their lives. Preventive measures must be strengthened through education, community engagement, and robust legal frameworks to protect children from abuse in all its forms.

Looking Ahead: The Summit of the Future

The upcoming Summit of the Future in September 2024 offers a unique opportunity to build on the discussions at CPD57 and further advance the ICPD agenda. This summit aims to enhance global cooperation on critical challenges, reaffirm existing commitments, and address gaps in global governance. It is an ideal platform to reinforce the importance of SRHR and the protection of children from sexual violence within the broader context of sustainable development.

Linking ICPD30 to the Summit of the Future

The momentum generated by the thirtieth anniversary of the ICPD must carry forward to the Summit of the Future. By aligning the objectives of CPD57 with the summit’s goals, we can ensure a cohesive approach to tackling current and emerging challenges. The Pact for the Future, the outcome document of the summit, should incorporate concrete measures to advance SRHR, protect children from violence, and promote gender equality.

Reaffirming Our Commitments

The declaration adopted at CPD57 reaffirms the commitments made at the ICPD and emphasizes the need for renewed political will, increased investment, and enhanced international cooperation. As we prepare for the Summit of the Future, it is essential to translate these commitments into actionable strategies that address the root causes of inequality and discrimination.

Conclusion: A Call to Action

The anniversary of the ICPD is not just a moment for reflection but a call to action. As Oluwatoyin I. M. Chukwudozie aptly stated, “When women lead, they transform lives.” It is incumbent upon all stakeholders—governments, international organizations, civil society, and individuals—to work collaboratively towards a future where SRHR are universally upheld, and every child is protected from violence and exploitation.

Addressing sexual violence against children, both offline and online, is a critical part of this effort. Ensuring that survivors receive the healing and support they need is paramount. As we move towards the Summit of the Future, let us harness this opportunity to create a more equitable, just, and sustainable world. The path ahead is challenging, but with collective effort and unwavering commitment, we can achieve the vision set forth at the ICPD thirty years ago and build a better future for generations to come.

Sign the G7 petition and end sexual violence

Ask leaders of the world’s richest countries to take bold action to end childhood sexual violence when they meet in June at the G7 summit

Develop a National Call to Action

Find out how to create a National Call to Action for your country and read other countries’ submissions

Follow @BeBraveGlobal on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter for all the latest updates on our Mobilizing Billions campaign

THE TIME IS NOW: COLLECTIVE ACTION AGAINST CHILDHOOD SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN AFRICA

THE TIME IS NOW: COLLECTIVE ACTION AGAINST CHILDHOOD SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN AFRICA

Noelle Museshi Murunga | Brave Movement Africa Advocacy Officer 

When I first started my career as an advocate for youth and adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health, I was confronted with the harsh truth that young adolescent girls had to endure abuse to get access to menstrual hygiene management products.

The painful reality of teenage girls having to transact sex for pads is one particular experience that has stuck with me ever since. It was even more depressing to learn that transactional sex was deeply ingrained in their culture, with community matriarchs and grandmothers supporting the scourge, demonstrating how pervasive child sexual abuse is engrained in society.

The Disconnect between Policy and Practice

The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) stands as a pivotal regional human rights instrument, purposefully adopted by the African Union to address issues of protecting and safeguarding the rights and the wellbeing of children in Africa. Despite the ratification of the Charter by 50 African Union member states, the persisting prevalence of childhood sexual violence serves as a vital reminder of the gap between legislative mandates and real-life outcomes.

Last month, the Africa Committee of Experts on the Rights and  Welfare of Children (ACERWC) convened for its 43rd Ordinary Session in Maseru, Lesotho. The ACERWC serves as the designated organ of the African Union tasked with overseeing the enforcement of the Charter and advancing the cause of children’s rights throughout the continent. While acknowledging the strides made by member states in safeguarding the rights of children, there remains a substantial disparity in addressing violence against them.

Childhood Sexual Violence: A Public Health Emergency

The launch of the Teenage Pregnancy Report during the 43rd Ordinary Session highlighted the urgent need for action against child sexual violence. Data from the Violence Against Children Surveys (VACs) painted the grim reality that child sexual violence is a public health emergency that requires immediate action. The report exposed alarming trends:

  • Rape escalated the prevalence of teenage pregnancies
  • There is a well-established connection between child marriage and teenage pregnancy. It is underscored by the fact that 80% of teenage mothers in most African countries are married or co-habit with a male partner
  • Online sexual abuse and exposure to sexual content played a significant role in driving teenage pregnancy. Between 2019 and 2020, child-generated sexual material increased by 77%, and reports of online sexual exploitation surged by 100%.
  • Even when survivors of sexual abuse and violence report the incidents, they often struggle to receive the necessary redress for future prevention, healing and justice.

This isn’t just a concern—it’s a critical emergency demanding swift response and we cannot afford to wait!

The urgency of this matter cannot be overstated. Every moment counts in protecting our children. AU member states need to prioritize combating child sexual abuse and all forms of violence against children, both online and offline.

Ending Sexual Violence in schools is  a conduit for promoting Agenda 2063 through Education

This year’s African Union theme, “Education for All Children in Africa,” highlights a critical imperative, yet research reveals that schools remain hotspots for violence against children. For the African child to benefit fully from quality education as outlined in Aspiration 6 of Africa’s Agenda 2040 for Children, we must ensure that educational environments are safe environments for learning.

Agenda 2063, Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into a global powerhouse for the future, has laid the foundation for action. Aspiration 6 emphasizes the centrality of people-driven development, particularly leveraging the potential of African women, youth, and, crucially, children. Recognizing the gendered nature of violence, Aspiration 6 underscores the urgency of eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against women, girls and children.

Central to this vision is the prerequisite that safe schools are foundational to quality education. Schools bear the responsibility of preventing violence against children, with teachers and staff serving as custodians of their safety. Therefore, it is vital to provide comprehensive training to educators on child protection and safeguarding measures, ensuring their effective implementation within school environments.

The Time to Act is Now!

Addressing childhood sexual violence in Africa requires a collective effort involving not only individual nations but also regional bodies like the African Union (AU) and the broader international community. While each African nation and community may face distinct challenges and manifestations of violence, there are overarching norms, such as the gendered nature of violence, and prevalent forms of abuse like female genital mutilation (FGM), forced child marriage, and online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA), that demand urgent attention.

This complex issue necessitates bold and coordinated actions from all sectors. It’s not a task that falls solely on the shoulders of one entity; rather, it requires a united front and concerted efforts from governments, civil society, international organizations, and local communities to bring about the transformative change needed to protect the rights and well-being of Africa’s children. A pan-African response is therefore necessary to effectively address violence in all its forms across Africa

The inclusion of survivor voices within the AU will also play a critical and distinct role in ending childhood sexual violence. Quoting one of our survivor advocates,

As we anticipate the upcoming 44th Ordinary Session later this year, I am convinced that together, we hold the power—and the moral obligation—to forge a safer world for our children.

For if not us, who will?

A Survivor Leader’s Perspective on Dirty Dozen List – calling out actions needed by major tech companies to protect children from online sexual abuse

A Survivor Leader’s Perspective on Dirty Dozen List – calling out actions needed by major tech companies to protect children from online sexual abuse

By Rhiannon-Faye McDonald, member of the Brave Movement’s SAGE (Survivor Advocates Globally Empowered – advisory board) and the Head of Advocacy at the Marie Collins Foundation.

I am a survivor of technology-assisted child sexual abuse. When I was 13 years old, I was groomed online by a much older man who was pretending to be someone else. He gave me lots of compliments so I would send photos of myself to him, and ultimately was able to manipulate me into sending intimate photos which were then used to blackmail me. He came to my house the following morning and continued the sexual abuse in person. The photos were used to silence me.

For a long time following my abuse, I felt very alone. I knew that countless other victims and survivors were out there, but I didn’t know any of them. I was never put in contact with others with similar experiences to me,  so I never experienced the kind of peer support that I now know is invaluable in the recovery journey. I joined the Brave Movement because it is such a positive step forward in connecting those with lived experience and showing that we are not alone and not powerless.

By bringing together so many lived experience advocates, our collective voices can bring about true change and have a real impact on the fight against child sexual abuse.

No child should ever have to experience what I went through. No victim or survivor should have to experience the complete lack of support that I did. We have a responsibility to do better, to ensure that every child is safe, and every victim and survivor receives the appropriate support along their recovery journey.

We have had thirty years to address this, and yet the self-regulation of tech companies has failed miserably in protecting children. The number of children harmed by technology-assisted child sexual abuse is ever-increasing. We see victims and survivors being continually re-traumatised by the ongoing circulation of the images and videos of their sexual abuse. We are now witnessing tech companies intentionally making decisions which make their services less safe for children, and more private and secure for child sex abusers.

We cannot stand for this any longer.

Tech companies have a duty to ensure their platforms are safe and are not used as a tool for child sex abusers to groom and abuse children. Many platforms are still failing to protect children adequately. They need to take urgent action to address this and end child sexual abuse in their services.

Launching today, the Dirty Dozen List is crucial in calling out the mainstream tech companies who are facilitating, enabling, and even profiting from sexual abuse and exploitation. The List, created annually by the National Centre on Sexual Exploitation, looks at 12 leading tech platforms and the problematic policies and practices on each with a corresponding call to action for urgent change. By providing us with the evidence, it is easy to see which tech platforms are not doing enough and the urgent action that is needed, along with providing easy ways to engage with the issue.

By calling out tech companies in this way, it makes clear that we will no longer accept children being put at risk. And it has been working, along with other initiatives and campaigns in this space. since the list was created in 2013, there have been many victories where tech companies have addressed their failings as a result of being named and shamed. For example, both Instagram and TikTok no longer allow adult strangers to send unsolicited direct messages to children, and Snapchat removed the Snapcash feature which enabled the monetization of child sexual abuse. But there is still more to do.

Technology-assisted child sexual abuse has no borders. It is a global issue, requiring a coordinated and cohesive global response. We need governments and policymakers to truly understand this issue and the significant harm caused, and fight passionately to eradicate it. This includes strong legislation holding tech companies to account and ensuring that the safety of children is prioritised over profit. It includes resources for law enforcement, social services, health, education and parents to strengthen the safeguarding circle around children and ensure that the response to those harmed online does no further harm. It also includes engaging with those of us who have lived experience of this horrendous issue – our voices should inspire change, inform decisions, and be the golden thread running through the global response.

Join the Brave Movement today in calling for tech companies to take urgent action, and support the launch of the #DirtyDozenList with us!

Sign the G7 petition and end sexual violence

Ask leaders of the world’s richest countries to take bold action to end childhood sexual violence when they meet in June at the G7 summit

Develop a National Call to Action

Find out how to create a National Call to Action for your country and read other countries’ submissions

Follow @BeBraveGlobal on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter for all the latest updates on our Mobilizing Billions campaign

The Brave Movement launches two pivotal reports addressing statutes of limitation (SOL) across Latin America

The Brave Movement launches two pivotal reports addressing statutes of limitation (SOL) across Latin America

In our dedication to ensuring that victims and survivors of childhood sexual violence receive the justice they are entitled to, the Brave Movement is proud to present two pivotal reports addressing the statutes of limitation (SOL) across Latin America.

The first report is a collaborative effort by the Global SOL Taskforce, involving CHILDGlobal and the Brave Movement alongside Fundación Derecho al Tiempo. This document provides a thorough legal evaluation and country-specific rankings, emphasizing the critical need to eliminate criminal statutes of limitations for Child Sexual Abuse in Latin America. It delivers insightful analysis of SOL reform efforts at local, national, and regional levels.

Click here to read the report.
Click here for the English version

Our second report is crafted by a group of survivor leaders who are also experts, activists, scholars, psychologists, and lawyers, spearheading the charge for justice in the region. They have united to form the Movimiento de Valientes de Latinoamérica y el Caribe, or Brave Movement Latin America & Caribbean. Utilizing a comprehensive neuro-psycho-social framework, this report examines the repercussions and impacts of sexual violence on infants, girls, boys, and adolescents. It features moving first-person accounts from survivor activists and, through a diverse lens of examination, exposes the significant failings of the justice systems in Latin America, spotlighting the relentless efforts of those committed to advancing justice and children’s rights in the region.

Click here to read the report.

For more information, contact lmutawe@bravemovement.org

 

En nuestro empeño por garantizar que las víctimas y sobrevivientes de la violencia sexual en la infancia reciban la justicia a la que tienen derecho, el Movimiento Brave se enorgullece de presentar dos reportes fundamentales que abordan los plazos de prescripción (SOL) en América Latina.

El primer informe es el producto de lacolaboración del Global SOL Taskforce, en el que participan CHILDGlobal y el Brave Movement junto con la Fundación Derecho al Tiempo. Este documento proporciona una evaluación legal exhaustiva clasificacando cada país y enfatiza la necesidad vitalde eliminar la prescripción penal del Abuso Sexual Infantil en América Latina. Ofrece un análisis extensode los esfuerzos para reformar los SOL a nivel local, nacional y regional.

Haga clic aquí para leer el reporte
Haga clic aqui para la versión en inglés

Nuestro segundo reporte ha sido elaborado por un grupo de sobrevivientes líderes que también son expertos, activistas, académicos, psicólogos y abogados al frente de la lucha por la justicia en la región. Se han unido para formar el Movimiento de Valientes de Latinoamérica y el Caribe. Utilizando un marco neuro-psico-social integral, este reporte examina las repercusiones y el impacto de la violencia sexual en bebés, niñas, niños y adolescentes. Presenta conmovedores relatos en primera persona de activistas sobrevivientes y expone los defectos de los sistemas jurídicos en América Latina, destacando los incansables esfuerzos de aquellos que están comprometidos con el avance de la justicia y los derechos de los niños en la región.

Haga clic aquí para leer el reporte

Para más información, póngase en contacto con lmutawe@bravemovement.org

Amplifying Voices, Healing Wounds: A Survivor’s Journey to End Childhood Sexual Violence

Amplifying Voices, Healing Wounds: A Survivor’s Journey to End Childhood Sexual Violence

By Florence Keya, Founder of Maisha Girls Safe House and Co-founder of the Brave Movement

In the quiet corners of trauma and resilience, my journey began – one marked by the scars of childhood sexual violence. Today, as the founder of the Maisha Girls Safe House in Nairobi, and a co-founder of the Brave Movement, I find solace in standing alongside fellow survivors, united in the fight against the global epidemic of childhood sexual violence.

Creating Safe Spaces: Maisha Girls Safe House

My healing journey led me to found the Maisha Girls Safe House – a sanctuary for girls who, like me are survivors of childhood sexual violence. Beyond shelter, we provide a haven for growth, investing in their physical and mental well-being. At Maisha Girls, survivors receive medical care, education, support in seeking justice and a community of empathetic peers. We want to help girls with their healing journey.

Collaborating for Change and The Birth of the Brave Movement

Collaborating with local communities, governments, and policymakers was no easy feat. Initially met with skepticism, we persevered, building bridges with child welfare associations, governments, and non-profit organizations. Through sharing data and experiences, we’ve created a network combating both childhood sexual violence as well as gender-based violence (GBV). Our collaboration has not only raised awareness but also empowered our cause and has allowed us to secure funding for the Maisha Girls Safe House.

Recognising the need for a global campaign against childhood sexual violence, a group of survivors of childhood sexual violence got together and the Brave Movement emerged. It unites survivors and allies worldwide, fostering collective action to fight this cause. Through shared experiences, we amplify our impact, advancing our fight with a sense of unity and purpose.

Being a part of the Brave Movement has given visibility to my work in Kenya, fostering collaboration, learning from each other’s lived experiences, sharing data to improve our impact with facts, ideas and funding opportunities. The strength derived from this global network empowers our local efforts, making the fight against childhood sexual violence feel less daunting. I share the same vision as the other  SAGE (Survivors Advocate Globally Empowered) members who are the steering group behind the Brave Movement, which has given me a sense of belonging and helped me in my healing journey.

The prevailing response to violence against girls falls short. It’s crucial to distinguish between issues affecting girls from those affecting women. Justice delayed contributes to prolonged suffering which hinders proper healing. There is a pressing need for support programs that acknowledge the crime of childhood sexual violence and provide avenues for healing, resilience, and traditional education.

Investing in Prevention and Education and a Call for Action

To truly eradicate childhood sexual violence, we must invest in preventive measures. Initiatives promoting sexual/reproductive health rights from a young age are essential. Education is our greatest weapon in empowering girls, instilling resilience, and dismantling harmful cultural norms.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us acknowledge the urgency of investing in girls because if we invest in keeping girls safe, they will grow into healthy, confident and educated women. Increased funding, awareness, and empowerment are paramount. Recognise survivors as catalysts for change and involve them in decision-making processes. Womanhood begins with the safety and support of young girls.

Survivors must lead the fight against childhood sexual violence. Our lived experiences should guide policy decisions, ensuring a more nuanced and effective response. To secure a future for women, we must prioritize the safety and well-being of girls.

For real change, women must be at the forefront of this fight. Inclusion and representation are non-negotiable. Survivors must be given a voice in the cause they champion.

In the collective pursuit of ending childhood sexual violence, our actions should speak louder than our words. Together, we can dismantle the structures perpetuating harm, creating a world where every girl can blossom into a resilient woman.

The Brave Movement has been awarded 230,000 USD by UBS Optimus Foundation to support its work to end childhood sexual violence in Africa

The Brave Movement has been awarded 230,000 USD by UBS Optimus Foundation to support its work to end childhood sexual violence in Africa

This investment will support Brave’s Africa regional platform’s advocacy campaigns to end childhood sexual violence across the continent.

Washington, D.C., February 21, 2024 – The Brave Movement, a survivor-centered global movement campaigning to end to sexual violence against children, has received a 230,000 USD grant from UBS Optimus Foundation to expand its Brave regional platform’s work towards ending sexual violence against children in the continent.

Brave Africa is a regionally coordinated platform catalyzing advocacy campaigns to end childhood sexual violence across Africa. This grant will support the Brave Movement plans to engage with the African Union to advocate for policy and legal reforms across the continent that focus on prevention, healing and justice and are led by survivors of childhood sexual violence.

“We are grateful for UBS Optimus Foundations’ belief in our mission and support for the Brave Movement’s work in Africa”, said Dr. Daniela Ligiero, President of Together for Girls and Founder of the Brave Movement. “This support will be instrumental in our work with brave survivors in Africa to advocate for measures that address childhood sexual violence across the continent.”

“Every child deserves a safe childhood. Brave’s work to amplify voices against childhood sexual abuse is critical to achieve prevention, healing and justice for survivors”, said Kanga Rasi, Africa Campaign Manager at the Brave Movement. “We are at the forefront of change, and this grant will be a catalyst for further progress in our work to demand bold and transformative action from world leaders to put an end to childhood sexual violence.”

Sarah Veilex, Child Protection Program Director at UBS Optimus Foundation said: “We invest in evidence-based, scalable solutions that keep children safe. That’s why we are delighted to support the Brave Movement in Africa as this will enable them to increase their support for survivor organizations and amplify advocacy programs to improve child safety online and end sexual violence against children across Africa.”

With the support from UBS Optimus Foundation, Brave Africa will continue to demand action from policymakers and technology companies to ensure that children are secure, protected and free from all forms of sexual violence online. Brave Africa is reigniting action on the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection, also known as the Malabo Convention, which came into force in 2023. Brave Africa will push for member states to sign and ratify this convention and expand the scope of online offences to include online grooming, sextortion, online trafficking, livestream sexual abuse and all other forms of online offences.

This support from UBS Optimus Foundation will enable Brave Africa to continue mobilizing survivor-led organizations across the continent, call on leaders and technology companies to ensure children’s safety online and strengthen its advocacy campaigns to end childhood sexual violence across Africa.

About Together for Girls
Together for Girls is a global partnership working to end sexual violence against children and adolescents. Active in over 20 countries, Together for Girls unites actors that often do not work together, including national governments, United Nations entities, the private sector, civil society, and survivors. Through data and advocacy, Together for Girls drives action to break cycles of violence and ensure prevention, healing, and justice.

About the Brave Movement
Hosted by Together for Girls, the Brave Movement is a survivor-led global movement campaigning to end childhood sexual violence. It is led by 14 powerful survivors and allied partners. It is demanding bold and transformative action to mobilize billions for programs focused on prevention, healing and justice worldwide, abolish statutes of limitation in every nation, and create a safer internet for children.

About UBS Optimus Foundation
The UBS Optimus Foundation is an independent grant-making foundation that offers UBS clients a platform to use their wealth to drive positive social and environmental change. The Foundation selects programs that improve children’s health, education and welfare, ones that have the potential to be transformative, scalable and sustainable as well as programs tackling environmental and climate issues.

MEDIA CONTACT
Marek Pruszewicz – marek@togetherforgirls.org

The Brave Movement reactive statement to: Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the online child sexual exploitation crisis

The Brave Movement reactive statement to: Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the online child sexual exploitation crisis

On January 31st 2024 the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled “Big Tech and the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Crisis”. For millions of children and adolescents, and parents and caregivers, in the United States and around the world, the rapid rise in online sexual abuse and exploitation is a crisis, a hidden pandemic.  The CEOs of Meta, Discord, TikTok, Snapchat and X (formerly Twitter) were called on to testify and answer questions regarding  their companies’ lack of action to protect children on their platforms. Senators convened the hearing to build support for a suite of bills intended to expand protections for children online, including a measure that would allow victims of child sexual abuse to sue platforms that enable exploitation. The CEO’s were met with an overflowing room of parents holding pictures of children who have been victims to abuse and exploitations on their platforms.

It is estimated that one in six people are victims of online child sexual abuse before the age of 18 years old. This is an area of childhood sexual violence which has been rising at an alarmingly exponential rate over the last few years. In fact, reports of child sexual abuse material on online platforms grew from 32 million in 2022 to a record high of more than 36 million in 2023. These numbers do not even portray the true scale with a lack of reporting and identification resulting in numbers widely regarded to be millions less than the reality.

Survivors of childhood and adolescent sexual violence were in attendance at the hearing, to raise awareness of the scale and impact of the issue, share their perspectives and call for the leaders of these technology giants to prioritize child protection. As noted by a survivor leader, Tom Krumins, who was representing the Brave Movement at the hearing: “It is critical that survivors have a voice and a say in this conversation. True youth protection depends on the survivor perspective. Those of us who slipped through the gaps must be able to highlight our experiences and help inform the necessary changes so sexual violence does not continue to happen to millions of children and adolescents.”

The Brave Movement, a special initiative of Together for Girls, is a survivor-led advocacy movement working to end childhood sexual violence.  An integral part of our mission involves supporting survivor leaders advocating to end child sexual exploitation and abuse online and holding tech companies accountable. The Brave Movement is also part of The End Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children (OSEAC) Coalition who convened survivors from across the country to inform the questions for the CEOs, attend the hearing, and run an online day of action for online safety on day after the hearing.

There is an increasing belief that the technology is available to protect children on these platforms and that the problem lies with leaders choosing not to take necessary actions. Mr. Zuckerberg (Meta), Ms. Yaccarino (X), Mr. Chew (TikTok), Mr. Spiegel (Snapchat), and Mr. Citron (Discord) were questioned about their respective companies’ efforts, and stances on a suite of bills that have been developed to protect children. The well rehearsed CEO’s did little to show they are posed to take action at the level needed to address the crisis. Time after time all the CEO’s refused to say they would support bills that have been developed by the committee, while at the same time using their opening statements to note the importance of legislation to end online sexual exploitation.

The ‘all talk and no action’ theme was called out at one point by an understandably emotive, and visibly frustrated, Senator Lindsey Graham who noted “This senate is done with talking. We have passed five bills…if we wait for all of you to act we will die trying!

There were some exceptions, and notes of progress, notably X publicly noting they will support the STOP CSAM ACT, the first of the technology giants to do so. On the product safety side all the CEO’s noted measures they are taking, and investments they are making, and a commitment to continued dialogue on legislation. But the solutions offered up were at a micro level, whereas the crisis it at a macro, endemic level.

The committee spoke to the safety of users and how no other products impact the safety of those using it, without mass scale action. Such as a fleet of airplanes being grounded if a glitch is found in just one of thousands of that type of airplane. Where is the similar scale action for online safety? Nowhere to be seen.

Senators noted that legislation is behind and has not developed at the rate and scale that technology has over the last twenty years. This time lag between the products, platforms and the regulations and policies needed is clear, and the continued political leadership shown at the hearing will be essential for any significant change. But unfortunately, upsettingly, and heartbreakingly for the parents and survivors in the room there was no hint that the scale of action that is needed to make the internet safe for children, and prevent online sexual exploitation and abuse, is going to be shown by the technology giant leaders any time soon.

As Tom Krumins from the Brave Movement noted “The time is now for these leaders to be bold, to be brave! What we saw today was simply not enough. At the Brave Movement, we will continue to call on technology companies to take urgent steps to prioritize child safety on their platforms, and we will continue to call on the government to play their part in regulating and holding these companies to account.”

One Woman’s Roar Against Sexual Violence in African Schools #WD2023

One Woman’s Roar Against Sexual Violence in African Schools #WD2023

allAfrica.com

Kigali, Rwanda — In the fight against sexual violence against children in Africa, one name stands out: Kanga Rasi.

Driven by her own experiences as a survivor of childhood sexual violence, Kanga is an inspiring leader who is leading the charge to end violence against children throughout the continent.

“I am a survivor of childhood sexual violence at 10. My lived experience motivated me to do this. This for me, it’s not work. For me, it’s that I wouldn’t wish another child, whether a girl or boy to experience what I did, because I know the impact of it, whether psychologically, whether health-wise, whether how you show up in society, how it affects also you as an individual,” she said.

Kanga is a beacon of hope for others who have been through similar experiences.

Her vision extends beyond her own personal healing, as she recognizes the urgent need for a society that safeguards the innocence and well-being of children. She is a tireless advocate for prevention, awareness, and support systems for survivors. She is determined to create a world where no child has to experience violence, and she is working tirelessly to make that vision a reality. Over the past nine years, she has worked with a variety of organizations at the international, regional, national, and grassroots levels to address issues such as gender-based violence, reproductive rights, education, and women in leadership.

Kanga said that “if we want children to reach their full potential, we need to break down the barriers that stand in their way. Some of these barriers are systemic, but we can still make a difference by speaking out about our lived experiences and working to change the systems that perpetuate child abuse and neglect. By working together, we can ensure that all children have the opportunity to live their best lives”.

“Inculcating school-based gender-based violence (SRGBV) in our curriculums is important,” she said. “This should start with teacher training programs so that teachers understand what GBV is and how to talk to students about it. Once GBV is included in the curriculum, teachers should be aware of how to relay the information to students in a way that is both informative and sensitive. Additionally, students should be given opportunities to participate in crafting solutions to GBV, as their lived experiences are essential to developing effective prevention and response strategies.”

Gender-Based Violence in Schools – A Silent Epidemic

Schools are meant to be safe places for children to learn and grow. Yet, a chilling reality has shattered this ideal, plunging schools into the depths of a global crisis. Violence, once deemed unthinkable within these sacred spaces, has emerged as a relentless force, gripping the hearts of 246 million learners worldwide, reports UNESCO.

Violence can take many forms, including sexual harassment, physical assault, bullying, discrimination, verbal abuse, and harmful gender norms.

Africa, like many regions across the globe, faces significant challenges in addressing school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV). It is estimated that one in three girls in sub-Saharan Africa will experience some form of SRGBV during her school years, according to UNESCO. Alarming statistics show that between 46% and 78% of adolescent girls in African schools have experienced some form of SRGBV. This can have a devastating impact on girls’ education, mental health, and overall well-being and perpetuate a cycle of gender inequality. As a result, many girls are forced to avoid school, perform below their potential, or even drop out altogether. This violence has a significant negative impact on the educational achievements of female students.

SRGBV encompasses various forms, including sexual harassment, assault, bullying, discrimination, and harmful gender norms.

The consequences of SRGBV are far-reaching.

However, the Brave Movement is emerging as a global force. The organization aims to end all forms of sexual violence against children. It operates on the belief that survivors should be at the forefront of the fight against sexual violence, and their voices and experiences should guide the movement’s actions.  The Brave Movement, launched in April 2022, has experienced significant growth. The movement has members from around the world, with particularly rapid growth in Africa and Europe.

The Brave Movement’s advocacy is focused on these three pillars: prevention, healing, and justice. The movement believes that by working together, these partners can make a real difference in the lives of children who have been affected by violence.

Anna Macdonald, the Executive Director of Brave Movement, says that the Brave Movement is a survivor-led activist movement that works to end childhood sexual violence in Africa. The organization is committed to removing the stigma associated with survivors of childhood violence and creating a world where all children can grow up safe and free from fear. Brave Movement operates on a continent-wide level, with a substantial membership base in countries like Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and South Africa. The organization is actively engaged in Pan-African objectives, including joint campaigns and support for national-led initiatives.

The Brave Movement is a powerful example of how survivors of childhood sexual violence can use their voices to create positive change.

“One of its key principles is to amplify the voices of survivors, ensuring that they are able to present their perspectives and be heard by decision-makers when discussing policy solutions,” Macdonald said. “The organization firmly believes that individuals who have experienced the trauma of childhood sexual violence are well-positioned to advocate for effective measures to prevent such trauma for future generations.”

“Brave Movement advocates for Survivor councils to provide advice to governments and to include survivors in all policy dialogues. This involvement extends to sectors such as education, sports, and religion, where Brave Movement works to enhance safety and address issues related to childhood violence,” said Macdonald.   “The majority of our leadership team are survivors. Our 15-member leadership group is made up of survivors from 12 different countries. They advise and develop our organization’s policies and aspirations, and they are our spokespeople. For example, Kanga Rasi, our Africa campaign manager, is a survivor and an accomplished activist.”

Successful initiatives

The United Nations declared November 18 as the World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Violence. The day is intended to spotlight the sexual exploitation and abuse of children and to stress the need for prevention, for perpetrators to be brought to justice, and for victims to be given a voice as part of the long process of healing.

“This is a key success, as many African countries took part in campaigns last year to speak out against childhood violence,” said Kanga. “The UN Declaration has set aside this time to raise awareness of the issue and to promote best practices for preventing violence against children.”

“In Kenya, some partners have been instrumental in influencing the Children’s Act to incorporate provisions that protect children from violence. The Act currently addresses the evolving nature of child violence, including online safety. For example, there have been cases of live-streamed violence against children and online grooming,” she added. “Kenya has been successful in preventing these atrocities because of the Children’s Act and the work of its partners. However, there is still more work to be done. The different countries and partners involved in the Era Two Week are coming together to share best practices and to develop new strategies for preventing childhood violence.”

The purpose of the Era Two Week, as declared by the United Nations, is to bring attention to and address the issue of child sexual exploitation, abuse, and violence.

Macdonald also added that in 2023, “The Brave movement successfully campaigned with the G7 countries to secure a commitment from their ministers to fund and resource the ending of childhood violence.”

“This was a significant achievement because the impact of childhood violence costs the world billions of dollars in terms of the trauma that a child may grow up into an adult with unresolved trauma and the many problems that can cause in society. She said that getting an actual commitment from some of the most well-resourced countries in the world to invest in preventing child violence was a first step towards a successful campaign to make this a worldwide initiative.”

Future goals

Kanga said, “First and foremost, I believe that all African countries should ratify the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. This is an important charter that protects the rights of all children, especially in Africa. In addition, we need to address the issue of intrafamilial sexual violence, which is a major problem in Africa. This includes incest, whether it is committed by a father, uncle, or aunt. We need to look at how things have been done in the past and find ways to change them so that children are protected from this type of violence.”

“Online safety and sexual violence are major concerns for children today. There are a number of things that can be done to prevent these issues, including strong policies and implementation, education, and support. Funding is essential for preventing these issues, and the current reality for many children is that they do not feel safe online or in school. We need to create a world where children feel safe and protected, and this is possible if we invest in prevention and support.”

Elevating the voices of survivors

At the Women Deliver conference, Macdonald’s message to women is that childhood sexual violence is a feminist issue and a gender issue that is intersectional with many other issues, such as inequality, marginalization, and education. She is calling on women to recognize that childhood sexual violence is a serious issue that affects them disproportionately. She is also urging them to demand that safeguarding measures be put in place to protect children from violence. She highlights the fact that girls and women are disproportionately affected by violence, both as children and as adults, and that childhood sexual violence is not possible to address without also addressing these other issues. She calls for safeguarding measures to be put in place to protect children from violence, including measures such as providing safe and inclusive environments and making it easy for people to report concerns.

Kanga encourages Women Deliver to incorporate the lived experiences of survivors into their advocacy efforts to end childhood violence. She believes that survivors’ lived experiences are essential to advocacy because they cannot be taken away and can inform policy and interventions in ways that data and research cannot. Survivors can share their stories to raise awareness of the issue and build support for change, and they can provide insights into the challenges of healing from childhood violence, which can help to develop more effective interventions.

Sign the G7 petition and end sexual violence

Ask leaders of the world’s richest countries to take bold action to end childhood sexual violence when they meet in June at the G7 summit

Develop a National Call to Action

Find out how to create a National Call to Action for your country and read other countries’ submissions

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Brave Movement Calls on the EU to Urgently Pass Robust Legislation 2023 on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention and Response

Childhood sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) affects at least one in five girls and one in ten boys across socio-economic backgrounds. This violence causes a life-shattering impact on children and their families, and also costs an estimated 7 trillion or 3% to 8% of global GDP annually through jeopardy of their unfulfilled potential. Between 2010 and 2020, there has been a 9,000% increase in abuse images online, according to the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Internet Watch Foundation reported a record-breaking 252,000 URLs containing Child Sexual Abuse Materials in 2021.

The Brave Movement, a survivor-centered global movement fighting to end childhood sexual violence, is calling on the European Union (EU) to ensure a safe internet where children and adolescents are secure and free from all forms of sexual violence. The Brave Movement strongly backs the proposed EU Legislation to Prevent and Combat Child Sexual Abuse proposed by the European Commission under the leadership of the Commissioner for Home Affairs, with amendments, to ensure that it catalyzes a robust response to end childhood sexual violence in the EU. Nearly two-thirds of all known child sexual abuse material was traced to a European country in 2021, the EU needs to take bold action now to keep children safe.

The Brave Movement urges the European Parliament and Council of the EU to adopt robust legislation urgently during 2023. We believe it is important to ensure rapid passage of this historic regulation which will increase the safety of children, adolescents and future generations.

In the EU, digital spaces are in some cases completely unregulated – exposing children to the threat of horrific sexual violence and exploitation. Technology companies have the tools available to detect, report, and remove online sexual violence materials and grooming, and we will continue to put pressure on them to prioritize child safety ahead of anything else. This legislation should for the first time enforce mandatory rules on technology companies to detect, report, and remove sexual violence material which endangers children and adolescents and violates their rights.

The Brave Movement is calling for the creation of an EU Survivors’ Committee that would be led by adult survivors of online and offline childhood sexual violence from diverse backgrounds. EU Survivors’ Committee members, informed by their lived experience, would be able to provide invaluable policy recommendations and perspectives to the EU Centre and contribute to subsequent related policy actions taken by the EU Commission. This will strengthen the implementation of the proposed EU legislation, helping to prevent both online and offline childhood sexual violence, and support victims and survivors with healing, legal services, and technical services to remove their CSAM.

In summary, Brave Movement calls for:

  • A proportionate, long-term solution and legal framework that allows automated technology to be safely used to detect Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA) online.
  • The EU to make detection, reporting, and removal of child sexual violence materials and grooming mandatory for all internet service providers and platforms that provide a service or have users in the EU.
  • Encouragement of companies to engage in voluntary detection as they await reviews and mandatory detection orders from the EU Centre.
  • The legislation to mandate the use of grooming detection tools and deterrence mechanisms that disrupt pathways to offending against children, as well as classifiers to detect first-generation or ‘new’ material and tools to detect “known” material. This should be within a strong legal framework and with all necessary judicial safeguards to balance privacy rights.
  • The legislation to enable the development and deployment of technical solutions that help to eliminate, mitigate, or reduce threats to children’s safety, well-being, or rights in the rapidly evolving digital environment, including gaming and the metaverse.
  • The legislation to establish an EU Centre to tackle childhood sexual violence in Europe, that is harmonized to fit into the existing EU and global child safety governance architecture, and which includes a Survivors’ Committee

We call on all stakeholders in the European Union to #BeBrave to keep our children safe.

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