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Out of the Shadows: shining light on response to child sexual abuse and exploitation

Prevent Child Sexual Abuse Programme / Partner story / Programme news

Photo by skeeze from Pixabay

Oak Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of the first-ever global benchmarking index on child sexual abuse developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), with support from Oak Foundation, World Childhood Foundation and the Carlson Family Foundation. This index is called “Out of the Shadows: Shining light on response to child sexual abuse and exploitation”.

When government, civil society and private sectors act together, progress is possible. This ground-breaking index casts a spotlight on how 40 countries are addressing sexual violence against children to develop a better understanding of the issue, highlight where progress is needed, identify factors that can potentially drive change and bring more attention to this neglected issue.

“It takes place mostly in the shadows, but sexual violence against children is happening everywhere, regardless of a country’s economic status or its citizens’ quality of life. It is a universal threat—no boy or girl is immune—and one that is enabled by vastly improved communications connectivity and mobility” reads the opening lines of EIU’s new report, Out of the Shadows.

The index details: some of the fundamental challenges in the fight to end child sexual abuse including social stigma; limited capacity of children to come forward; structural inequalities such as poverty and forced migration which increase children’s vulnerability to sexual violence; child marriage; and increasingly powerful and widespread internet connectivity. However, there are a wide range of prevention and protective strategies that can, and are being employed including education, social norms change initiatives, strong legal frameworks, confidential treatment and therapy for at-risk or prospective offenders. “We also know that ending sexual violence requires us to harness the energies, skills and resources of all parts of society,” says UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed.

The index shows that the issue of sexual violence against children is gaining momentum on the global agenda. As awareness of the issue grows and victims feel more prepared to come forward, the number of cases being reported is increasing. “In the longer term, advocates are optimistic that prevention strategies, enhanced reporting and investigation, support for survivors and reduced stigma around disclosure will help to bring down prevalence rates… and this taboo of taboos can be chipped away” concludes the white paper, which describes the index in more detail.

“We are proud to have contributed to the creation of this first-ever global index on child sexual abuse,” says Brigette De Lay, director of the Prevent Child Sexual Abuse Programme at Oak Foundation. “We believe that children everywhere deserve a positive future with the chance to grow and learn in safety free from the threat of sexual abuse and this index is a unique tool that will help advocates, champions and organisations to accelerate progress in achieving this goal”. Specifically, the index will assist governments, civil society and the private sector in working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 to end all forms of violence against children.

This grant falls under Oak’s Prevent Child Sexual Abuse (PCSA) programme, and within that our strategic opportunity funding, which allows us to invest in legacy projects in areas of interest to the TrusteesFor more information, including a copy of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s whitepaper and the index model which includes a detailed description of the index construction and research process is available here.

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