Addressing sexual violence against children, a political priority

PACE Committee on Social Affairs has called on Council of Europe member States “to make addressing sexual violence against children a political priority, to make full use of the available resources and to step up their action and increase co-operation”.

During a virtual meeting held today, the committee recalled that as Europe is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of child sexual abuse is even higher. “Many children are confined with their actual or potential abusers, out of sight of others, who could normally potentially detect, prevent or report the abuse,” it warned.

Following the proposals by the rapporteur, Doreen E. Massey (United Kingdom, SOC), the parliamentarians urged member States to develop and improve existing laws to protect children against sexual violence, to ensure that the age of sexual consent is not lower than 18 years old and to abolish the statute of limitations for sexual violence against children.

With respect to protection and support, they called on governments to ensure that adequate and appropriate support to the victims is available and accessible, to promote interdisciplinary co-operation and co-ordination, and to facilitate training for professionals and volunteers in contact with children.

With respect to prosecution, the draft resolution underlines, member States should “ensure that the requirements of the Lanzarote Convention and the Council of Europe guidelines on child-friendly justice are fully respected”.

All States, parliaments, and local and regional authorities, as well as the EU and the United Nations, should derive the maximum benefit from the Council of Europe’s expertise and experience in addressing sexual violence against children, the adopted text concludes.