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.

*Ends*

Le Brave Movement appelle l’UE à adopter en urgence une législation solide

L’exploitation et les violences sexuelles contre les enfants affectent une fille sur cinq et un garçon sur dix et concernent tous les milieux socio-économiques. Ces violences ont un impact tout au long de la vie des enfants ainsi que celles de leurs proches. Elles coûtent environ 7000 milliards de dollars, soit 3 à 8% du Produit intérieur brut mondial annuel, et mettent en péril le développement des enfants. Entre 2010 et 2020, le nombre d’images pédocriminelles sur internet a augmenté de 9.000%, selon le Centre national américain sur les enfants recherchés et exploités (NCMEC). L’Internet watch foundation (IWF) a signalé 252 000 liens URL contenant du matériel pédocriminel en 2021, un record.

Le Brave Movement, un mouvement de survivant.es dont l’objectif est de mettre fin aux violences sexuelles contre les enfants, appelle l’Union européenne (UE) à garantir un internet sûr où les enfants et les adolescent.es sont protégés de toutes formes de violences sexuelles. Le Brave movement soutient fermement la proposition de règlement pour prévenir et combattre les abus sexuels les enfants – législation proposée par la Commission européenne à l’initiative de la Commissaire aux Affaires intérieures – et propose des amendements permettant de renforcer son impact pour mettre fin aux violences sexuelles contre les enfants au sein de l’UE.Près de deux tiers des contenus de violences sexuelles sur enfant signalés sur internet en 2021 étaient hébergés dans un pays européen. L’Union européenne doit prendre des mesures fortes dès à présent pour assurer la sécurité des enfants.

Le Brave movement exhorte le Parlement européen et le Conseil de l’UE à adopter en urgence une législation solide d’ici la fin de l’année 2023. Nous pensons qu’il est important de garantir une adoption rapide de ce règlement historique qui renforcera la sécurité des enfants, des adolescent.es et des générations futures.

Au sein de l’UE, l’espace numérique est parfois une zone de non droit absolu, ce qui expose les enfants à de terribles violences et exploitations sexuelles. Les entreprises du secteur numérique disposent d’outils pour détecter, signaler et retirer les contenus pédocriminels et les actes de “grooming” qui permettent aux prédateurs sexuels de se rapprocher de leurs victimes. Nous continuerons à les exhorter à faire de la sécurité des enfants leur priorité numéro un.Pour la première fois, cette législation vise à contraindre les entreprises du secteur numérique à détecter, signaler et retirer tout contenu de violences sexuelles mettant en péril des enfants et des adolescent.es et portant atteinte à leurs droits.

Le Brave movement appelle à la création d’un comité de survivant.es qui serait composé de survivant.es adultes de violences sexuelles en ligne et hors ligne venant de différents milieux. Les membres de ce comité, fort.es de leur vécu de violences sexuelles dans l’enfance, seront en mesure de formuler des recommandations précieuses, de conseiller le Centre européen dans son action et de contribuer ainsi aux actions futures de la Commission européenne.Cela renforcera la mise en œuvre du règlement européen en contribuant à la prévention des violences sexuelles contre les enfants hors ligne et en ligne , à soutenir les victimes et survivant.es dans leur reconstruction et sur les aspects juridiques et techniques permettant la suppression des contenus pédocriminels en ligne.

En conclusion, le Brave movement exhorte l’UE à:

  • Adopter une approche proportionnée et à long terme ainsi qu’un cadre légal permettant l’utilisation sécurisée de technologies automatisées visant à détecter sur internet l’exploitation sexuelle et les crimes sur les enfants .
  • Rendre obligatoire la détection, le signalement et le retrait de tout contenu pédocriminel et des actes de grooming pour tous les fournisseurs internet et les plates-formes offrant un service ou ayant des utilisateurs.rices dans l’UE.
  • Encourager les entreprises à engager des mesures de détection sur la base du volontariat dans l’attente de l’examen et des ordres de détection émanant du Centre européen.
  • Rendre obligatoire la détection, le signalement et le retrait de tout contenu pédocriminel et des actes de grooming pour tous les fournisseurs internet et les plates-formes offrant un service ou ayant des utilisateurs.rices dans l’UE.
  • Favoriser par ce règlement le développement et le déploiement de solutions techniques pour éliminer, atténuer, ou diminuer les risques pour la sécurité, le bien-être ou les droits des enfants dans un monde numérique en constante et rapide évolution y compris dans les secteurs du gaming et du métavers.
  • Etablir un Centre européen permettant de s’attaquer aux violences sexuelles contre les enfants, qui puisse s’inscrire dans la gouvernance existante mondiale et européenne en matière de sécurité des enfants et qui inclura un comité de survivant.es.

Nous appelons tous les décideur.euses de l’Union européenne à faire preuve de courage pour protéger nos enfants. #BeBrave !

Survivors of Childhood Sexual Violence Mobilize to Demand Action on 18 November

22 NOVEMBER 2022 – Friday, 18 November 2022 marked the 2nd Annual World Day for Prevention, Healing and Justice to End Childhood Sexual Violence, during which survivors of childhood sexual abuse around the world mobilized for the implementation and financing of evidence-based solutions to end childhood sexual abuse for all.

The Brave Movement, led by survivors, and supported by advocates and partners, calls for policy development and sustained funding, both domestically and internationally, to support survivors on prevention, healing, and justice.

On 18 November, survivors and allies all over the world took action – across six continents and in 24 countries.

  • In Bolivia, 42 organizations mobilized to put pressure on the new Bolivian government
  • In India, advocates commemorated Child Safety Week, a collaborative movement to mainstream conversations about child sexual abuse
  • In Japan, Brave Movement survivors met with G7 partners, Ministers and survivors
  • In Kenya, survivors marched to the Ministry of Health and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to hand over their demands

The Brave Movement produced, shared and curated four moments of survivor activation every hour during 18 November, with activity from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, DRC, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Philippines, Nepal, India, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain and the UK.

The mobilization was backed and supported by global organizations including the WHO,, UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA, World Vision and the Global Partnership to End Violence – which all echoed the Brave Movement’s calls on social media.

Violence against children impacts more than one billion children and costs world economies US$7 trillion annually (World Vision).

The COVID-19 pandemic placed even more children at risk (World Vision) both off and online. The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said that in 2021, it investigated more reports of suspected child sexual abuse than in the first 15 years of its existence (Out of the Shadows Index).

This global scourge calls for immediate action on a global scale. The Brave Movement and our partners have evidence-based solutions to drastically reduce these rates if world leaders implement stronger policies and invest in programs to support survivors in every nation across the globe..

  1. Policy development: Improved policies based on evidence-based solutions
  2. Investment: Domestic and international investment to end violence against children and adolescents
  3. Prevention to protect current and future generations
  4. Healing for survivors and their families
  5. Justice for perpetrators of childhood sexual violence and the complicit

Wibke Müller, survivor, co-founder of the Brave Movement and co-chair of its G7 survivors’ taskforce said, “When I was a child, nobody protected me from sexual violence. I am devastated that over one billion children continue to be affected by this crime. Childhood sexual violence is the great silent scourge of our time. Shrouded in secrecy, it strikes individuals, shakes families and ravages communities in every corner of the world. We need bold and transformative action, not half-hearted commitments from the most powerful nations. This includes serious financial commitments toward evidence-based solutions. The Brave Movement is growing stronger every day. Our demands will only get louder and stronger until we are impossible to ignore. We can, and must, end childhood sexual violence for every child, everywhere.”

FIND OUT MORE:

#EndChildSexAbuseDay, #Nov18WorldDay, #PreventionHealingJustice

@BeBraveGlobal, @coe_children, @WorldVision, @together4girls

https://www.bravemovement.org/global-mobilization-day

ENDS

ABOUT THE BRAVE MOVEMENT

The Brave Movement is a powerful global survivor-centered movement that welcomes all allies in our mission to end childhood sexual violence. Supported by a $10M grant from the Oak Foundation to Together for Girls, this movement has become a powerful global force for change.

CONTACT THE BRAVE NEWSROOM

If you are a journalist or media outlet seeking further information about the Brave Movement, please contact our Brave Newsroom: press@bravemovement.org

Our Brave Newsroom supports the movement by disseminating survivor calls for action, recruiting advocates and galvanizing supporters all over the world to end childhood sexual violence.

Statement in response to G7 Interior Ministers’ Communiqué

Brave Movement Welcomes New G7 Commitments and the Recognition of the Importance of Survivors’ Perspectives, in Creating a World Free from Childhood Sexual Violence.

Germany, 18 November 2022 – Today, on the World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence, G7 leaders have for the first time acknowledged the strong role of victims’ and survivors’ perspectives to help raise awareness of these horrific online and offline crimes. The G7 also pledged to consider, and promote, victims’ and survivors’ perspectives whenever measures to end child sexual exploitation and abuse are planned or implemented.

This is the first step towards building a world free from childhood sexual violence. To achieve this, governments must commit to investing the resources needed for prevention-healing-justice solutions to end sexual violence against children.

The Brave Movement welcomes this new G7 commitment to implement the G7 Action Plan to combat Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse announced in September 2021. Nevertheless, we are extremely disappointed that the Ministers did not make specific financial, legislative or time bound commitments-to-action for ensuring a safe internet for children and adolescents.

Wibke Müller, survivor, co-founder of the Brave Movement and co-chair of its G7 survivors’ taskforce said, “When I was a child, nobody protected me from sexual violence. I am devastated that over one billion children continue to be affected by this crime. Childhood sexual violence is the great silent scourge of our time. Shrouded in secrecy, it strikes individuals, shakes families and ravages communities in every corner of the world. We need bold and transformative action, not half-hearted commitments from the most powerful nations. This includes serious financial commitments towards evidence-based solutions. The Brave Movement is growing stronger every day. Our demands will only get louder and stronger until we are impossible to ignore. We can, and must, end childhood sexual violence for every child, everywhere.”

The Brave Movement calls on G7 Interior Ministers to urgently work with survivors on implementation of evidence-based solutions, which can end childhood sexual violence for all. And we:

  • Demand that G7 establish a G7 Survivors Council based on the experience of the German Government so that survivors can provide recommendations to policymakers.
  • Demand bold action by the G7 Heads of State and Government under the G7 Presidency of the Government of Japan at the Hiroshima Summit being held on May 19 to 21, 2023.
  • Urge Germany, France, and Italy to back swift passage of the historic EU Legislation to Prevent and Combat Child Sexual Abuse by the end of 2023 as fast as possible.
  • Call on the UK government to enact a robust UK Online Safety Bill to protect children and adolescents as fast as possible by ending online childhood sexual violence.
  • Call on the US government to enact the Eliminate Network Distribution (END) of Child Exploitation Act as fast as possible.

To find out more about Wibke Müller and the Brave Movement, please visit our website and follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

ABOUT THE BRAVE MOVEMENT

The Brave Movement is a powerful global survivor-led movement that welcomes all allies in our mission to end childhood sexual violence. Supported by a $10M grant from the Oak Foundation to Together for Girls, this movement has become a powerful global force for change.

CONTACT THE BRAVE NEWSROOM

If you are a journalist or media outlet seeking further information about the Brave Movement, please contact our Brave Newsroom: press@bravemovement.org Our Brave Newsroom supports the movement by disseminating survivor calls for action, recruiting advocates and galvanizing supporters all over the world to end childhood sexual violence.

Brave Movement announces new Executive Director

Brave Movement is pleased to welcome international communications and campaigns leader, Anna Macdonald, as its first Executive Director

WASHINGTON, DC, October 17, 2022 – The Brave Movement announced today that international communications and campaigns leader, Anna Macdonald, has been named as its first Executive Director.Macdonald comes to Brave with 25 years of international advocacy experience working on social justice, human rights, arms control and disarmament. Most recently she served as Practitioner-in-Residence at Columbia Law School’s Human Right Institute and New York University’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. Macdonald’s research investigated how international social movements achieve legal change, based on her own experience leading the campaign for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).Daniela Ligiero, Chair of the Brave Movement’s Global Steering Group and CEO of Together for Girls, which hosts the movement, said that Macdonald is the right leader, at the right time, to take the Brave Movement to the next level.“In our second year, the Brave Movement is evolving into a powerful, global movement to end sexual violence against children and adolescents,” Ligiero said. “We believe there is power in mobilizing globally, nationally and locally to put pressure on governments and decision-makers to take action, and Anna will be the leader to make that happen.”

Macdonald, a British national, previously served as Director of the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Control Arms Campaign where she was a leader in the campaign for the ATT and coordinated work toward its universalization and effective implementation.

As the head of arms control at Oxfam, and as Co-Chair of the Control Arms Coalition, she led over 100 organizations to develop the international advocacy and campaign strateg, which ultimately secured the ATT, in addition to advising the United Kingdom government and building a coalition with progressive governments around the world.

Commenting on her new role, Macdonald said, “The Brave Movement’s network of survivors are an impressive group, and I look forward to working with them to end the scourge of sexual violence.”

Macdonald has a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Politics and Geography from Sheffield University and a Masters in Development Studies from Leeds University.

Rosalia Rivera, chair of the SAGE, the Brave Movement’s survivor board, welcomed the appointment.

“The Brave Movement’s global network brings together survivors and allies with a common mission to end all forms of sexual violence against children and adolescents everywhere,” Rivera said. “Anna Macdonald will help us build the movement into a global force. We will be silent no longer.”

Brave Movement request to Hon. Elizabeth Truss, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

To continue the country’s commitments on child sexual abuse and turn them into bold concrete actions during the upcoming G7 Interior Ministers meeting.

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to you as UK survivors of childhood sexual violence and as members of the survivor-led Brave Movement. Our movement began this year and is growing rapidly worldwide.

Many congratulations on your new role. We know you have a huge amount on your plate, but we also know that you have been an invaluable champion of ending childhood sexual violence.

In the UK, survivors came together for the first time this year to draft the attached National Call to Action with 12 requests to the UK Government to drive forward Prevention, Healing, and Justice policies and programs. In the coming weeks and months, there will be several critical opportunities to take forward progress on these issues, including within the Online Safety Bill, and the launch of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. We urge you to drive this agenda forward boldly and without delay.

There Should be Zero Tolerance to Child Sexual Abuse

Two recent incidents bring to the fore the disturbing statistics with respect to the safety and sorry condition of minor girls in India.

Publication: Haribhoomi, page 6.
By Alka Arya
(Translated from Hindi)

Two recent incidents involving the rape of an eight-year-old girl in Delhi’s Badarpur area and another case wherein a fourteen-year-old girl committed suicide after being raped by her neighbour in Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh once again bring to the fore the disturbing statistics with respect to the safety and sorry condition of minor girls in the country. For India which is home to 440 million children, child sexual abuse is an extremely sensitive issue. At the same time, it is concerning that not many parents, teachers and the general public are aware of the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) 2012. In one of the earlier surveys conducted by the Government, it emerged that 53 per cent of the children interviewed reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse. In most cases, abusers were persons known to the child whom their parents trusted. Such incidents are not only confined to urban areas alone as even villages aren’t untouched. India and the world need to address child sexual abuse on a priority basis.

An incident of rape was reported recently from New Delhi’s Badarpur area where an eight-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by a 30-year-old man. There were bite marks all over the victim’s body who lived with her mother. The crime took place when the victim’s mother had gone to a factory for work, leaving her alone at home. The accused entered the home, stuffed the victim’s mouth with a cloth to stop her from screaming and raped her. Police arrested the accused and sent his blood samples for tests. It came to the fore that the accused was HIV Positive, and he very well knew it. In another incident, a 14-year-old rape victim in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, committed suicide. The minor was raped on 22 May by a youth living in her neighbourhood. She was alone at her home when she was raped. She narrated her ordeal to her family members but the latter did not register a complaint against the accused. Instead, the accused’s family members reached the victim’s home on 26th May seeking a compromise. They wanted an undertaking from the girl’s family that there won’t be any case filed in the future and that the accused would marry the girl after she attained the marriageable age. However, the girl wanted her parents to get an FIR lodged against the accused, but in vain. Distraught at the sight of her parents trying to reach a compromise with the accused’s family, the minor committed suicide even as the accused’s family sat in the next room. After the suicide, the victim’s brother informed media that the Police booked the accused under Section 376 and 306 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Both the incidents – the rape of the eight-year-old girl in Delhi and suicide by the rape victim in Uttar Pradesh – once again bring to the fore the disturbing statistics with respect to the safety and sorry condition of minor girls in the country. In the current societal structure, if the offenders happen to belong to influential families, bringing them to book becomes even more difficult. In villages, it becomes tough when influential people intervene to protect the culprits. For India which is home to 440 million children along with a significant youth population, child sexual abuse is an extremely sensitive issue.. A government-sponsored survey found that more than 53 per cent children in the country faced one or more forms of sexual abuse. Most of the abusers were known to the children and a significant number of them also enjoyed the trust of the victims’ parents.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), child sexual abuse is the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or that violates the laws. At the same time, it is concerning that not many parents, teachers and the general public are aware of the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) 2012. Indeed, it is highly disturbing to understand that the society at large is not fully aware about the magnitude of the challenge posed by child sexual abuse. While hearing a case, a Delhi Court once observed that lack of awareness is one of the reasons behind rising incidents of sexual offences against children. People are not aware about POCSO. They have no fear of the law in this regard. Notably, the POCSO Act, 2012 was brought in after a lot of struggles. It was promulgated to provide protection to children against sexual offence, sexual abuse and pornographic material. The POCSO Act also aims to protect children from inappropriate touch or being approached with wrong intent. It applies to all children under the age of 18 years. One of the features of the law is that it is gender-neutral. It means that the victims as well as the offenders could be both male or female. Children who happen to be the victims of sexual abuse during their childhood tend to suffer from the trauma for long. They live in depression while many even commit suicide. In many cases, Courts acquit the accused of sexual offences for want of appropriate evidence. The rate of conviction in such cases is abysmally low. Systemic issues in our judiciary, shortage of staff, insensitivity and lack of training of the officials dealing with child sexual abuse cases are among the reasons for the low conviction rate.

It is noteworthy that sexual assault of children is a global problem. As per ‘Together for Girls’, an international organization, 120 million girls and young women under 20 years of age have suffered some form of forced sexual contact. One in every fifth girl suffered sexual abuse when she was very young. The ratio for the same among boys is one in ten. Elsa D Silva, a member of the organization, calls for breaking the silence to break the chain of violence and mobilize people and institutions. He said that there is a need to collect nation-wise data and work with governments, institutions and individuals in addressing child sexual abuse.

A global campaign, Brave Movement to End Childhood Sexual Violence, has also been launched in this regard. An appeal has been made to take steps to stop incidents of child sexual abuse. Several Indian institutions and activists responded to the appeals which include providing protection to children and adolescents against sexual offences, treatment of the survivors, ensuring justice to the victims etc. Several notable institutions, including IIT Mandi, Indian Institute of Sciences (IIS), Benaras Hindu University (BHU) are signatories to the campaign. It also includes lists of child protection authorities. There is a special provision under Article 15(3) in the Indian Constitution under which states have been authorized to make provisions for ensuring child protection. Further, India is also a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly under Article 3. Under the provision, the onus of child protection lies on the parents, the school and the Government. India as well as other countries need to be sensitive toward child sexual abuse and needs to adopt a serious approach to tackle the problem.

Huge G7 Win in the Fight to End Childhood Sexual Abuse

Let’s #BeBrave and Continue the Momentum – Sign and Share the Petition!

Huge G7 Win in the Fight to End Childhood Sexual Abuse – Let’s #BeBrave and Continue the Momentum – Sign and Share the Petition!

We are nine survivors of childhood sexual violence from the Brave Movement from G7 countries and around the world.

We are asking you to join us, to break the silence around childhood sexual violence and demand bold action from governments all over the world.

This year, for the first time ever, G7 leaders collectively committed to stepping up our fight against trafficking in human beings and our efforts to prevent and combat child sexual abuse and exploitation globally, both online and offline. They have asked Interior Ministers to take forward the implementation of the Action Plan to combat Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse when they meet this Autumn.

This is a historic first step to creating a world where children grow up free from sexual violence. But words alone are not enough…

Now, we are urgently calling on the Leaders and Interior Ministers of the world’s richest countries to turn these words into bold and transformative action – to set an example to the rest of the world and to ensure that what happened to us never happens to another child, anywhere.

There are evidence-based, proven solutions. We demand:

  • Legislation to create a safer internet where children and adolescents are free from sexual violence;
  • A global pledging event on November 18, 2022, and an initial investment of at least US$1 billion per year for the established End Violence Fund, to scale programs of prevention, healing, and justice;
  • Creation of the G7 Survivors Council to advise governments on actions that they take to permanently end sexual violence against children and adolescents.

Please join us as survivors and our allies to demand prevention, to protect current and future generations; healing, for survivors and their families; and justice for survivors, holding perpetrators and the complicit to account.

It is time to break the silence. The burden should not be placed on survivors alone – everyone has a role to play.

***

Childhood sexual violence is a global scourge, which at least one in five girls and one in ten boys experience. It has devastating long-term consequences for children, families, and societies. And the COVID pandemic has exposed children to even greater risk.

Childhood sexual violence is happening, in silence, in every nation. In family homes, sports, schools, and places of worship. Also across borders, in the form of online abuse, trafficking, and sexual exploitation perpetrated by tourists.

Ending this scourge is essential for humanity. It demands a coordinated international response, and the world’s richest countries must take the lead because they have a special responsibility.