Dr. Joseph said this move is in an effort to reaffirm government’s commitment and with joint collaboration with civil society organizations, end child sexual abuse in the region. The proclamation was made during two days of Regional follow-up meetings on the Break the Silence initiative (June 26 & 27) held at the Jolly Beach Resort & Spa under the auspices of UNICEF.
During her PowerPoint presentation, the CARICOM Programme Manager explained that the sexual abuse of girls and of boys is an individual, family, community, national, regional and global problem, for which decisive and coordinated action is required to end this scourge on our societies. “..There can be no excuse and no justification for the sexual abuse of girls and boys. We recognize that many factors including poverty, discrimination, gender biases, illicit use of new technologies and social media, adult responsibility, irresponsibility, harmful cultural and traditional practices, ignorance of the impact of sexual abuse on the victim, and gender power differentials all play a part in driving this phenomenon by increasing children’s, especially girls’, vulnerability to sexual abuse.”
She stressed that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), to which all CARICOM Member States and associate members are signatories, as well as other relevant human rights instruments, together constitute the standard for protecting children from violence and sexual abuse.
In this regard, Dr. Joseph said the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that in undertaking any action the best interests of the child must be the primary consideration and further that the views of children should be valued and taken into consideration in the formulation and implementation of policies and actions on their behalf. Taking into account the need to have a comprehensive strategy for preventing and stopping the sexual abuse of the girl child and the boy child, she further called for State Parties to reaffirm that stopping this gross violation of Human Rights requires a shared responsibility and sustained commitment by all of us.
Full adaptation, therefore will seek to create a holistic framework and will formulate approaches to combating child sexual abuse on the internet. Such interventions would encourage governments to share information on child sexual abuse using the internet, and by facilitating cross-border investigations and cooperation on all aspects of preventing the sexual abuse of children and the prosecution of perpetrators. Additionally, Dr. Joseph explained it will “develop and implement awareness raising strategies of protection measures and the rights of children among persons in such areas as education, health, social protection, and religion, and in the fields of judicial and law enforcement, sports, culture and leisure, who come into contact with children on a regular basis; and Implement the XX111 COHSOD call for the creation of safe places in which victims and others affected are free to report and speak out against the sexual abuse of children without fear of recrimination.”
In doing so, it is necessary to consolidate community, national and regional data bases and research on all forms of violence against children for the purpose of supporting advocacy initiatives and informing policy decisions and resource mobilization to prevent violence against children, and to support the rights of children as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This in an effort to establish effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and strategies, with specific indicators for measuring performance and progress, and for the sharing of best practices and lessons learned, in order to better prevent the sexual abuse of children.
Further, she said it is critical to adopt measures, such as interagency protocols, to ensure that there is effective coordination and cooperation at the community, national and regional levels among the various child protection entities with key responsibilities for combating sexual violence against children, and for managing the treatment and safe reintegration of victims of sexual violence.
Dr. Joseph reminded child protection focal points that, this Bridgetown Declaration and Agenda for Action to Combat Child Sexual Abuse in the Caribbean was developed in accordance with agencies and governments to review progress made since the United Nations Study on Violence Against Children UNSVAC 2006 to identify lessons leant and key challenges, thereby committing themselves to the “rigorous implementation of the goals and targets contained in the document to ensure that those who have fallen victim of sexual abuse receive the highest quality and fullest possible support and care, in a timely manner in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols.”
“We call upon Caribbean Governments with the help of other stakeholders including civil society (such as non-governmental organizations, community based organizations & faith based organizations), the private sector, children and young people and international organizations to recommend as a means of accelerating and intensifying efforts against the sexual abuse of both girls and boys in the Caribbean and guaranteeing that the mandatory reporting and follow-up of child sexual abuse by all professionals working with children is fully realized in all our countries by the year 2015.” said Dr. Joseph.