With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for child victims of sexual abuse.
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Did you know that, according to estimates, between 10 % and 20 % of children in Europe suffer sexual abuse before they turn 18? Abuse occurs mainly in their immediate environment, but the internet and new technologies have brought a new dimension to the sexual exploitation of children, which is sometimes of a commercial nature. Victims of online abuse experience high levels of re-victimisation as long after the abuse occurred their images can still be exploited on the web.
The EU has adopted legislation to combat this very serious crime, criminalising a wide range of behaviours, both offline and online, including grooming and webcam sexual abuse, and introducing not only higher penalties, but also preventive measures. The law requires EU countries to ensure that perpetrators are disqualified from professional activities involving contact with children, and facilitates the exchange of information on convictions via the EU criminal records system. EU countries are also required to remove webpages containing or disseminating child pornography promptly. The law aims to protect child victims in criminal investigations and proceedings, and to safeguard their privacy and identity. Moreover, child sexual exploitation is a priority under the EU plan for combating serious crime, in which the EU police agency (Europol) plays an important role.
The public can also help, by taking part in the Europol’s Trace an object campaign, helping to identify the origin of an object linked to investigations, or by contacting the INHOPE network of hotlines to report suspicious online content.
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- EPRS publication on combating sexual abuse of children, 2017, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=EPRS_STU(2017)598614
- European Commission webpage on child sexual abuse, https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/child-sexual-abuse_en
- INHOPE – International Association of Internet Hotlines, http://www.inhope.org/gns/home.aspx