African Union organises Global Summit to Tackle Online Child Sexual Exploitation

Sexual abuse against children is considered to be one of the most devastating and heinous crimes of the modern-times. Addressing such an issue requires efforts from all across the world as abuse against children is an issue that, not a nation or two, but several countries face today. Non-Aligned Movement has always been the helping hand in addressing such issues and finding out of the box solutions for them. The organisation has always reiterated its concern towards children, paving way for growth and development of their personalities by protecting their rights and them from different forms of exploitation.

Making a step towards putting an end to this criminality, a Global Summit to Tackle Online Child Sexual Exploitation was held recently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on December 11 and December 12, 2019. The Summit was hosted by the African Union Commission, along with the UK Government and WeProtect Global Alliance. With an active participation, united key partners from governments, the technology industry, civil society, research institutions against online child sexual exploitation and law enforcement agencies showcased their presence at the Summit, highlighting the major concerns towards the issue and giving out the solutions to combat such a hideous crime.

The Summit aimed to generate awareness and attention on online child sexual exploitation. It also aimed to hear out the children, including the survivors and to facilitate new members to join the global movement against child abuse. With several laws in line to protect children from such abuse, there needs to be more to be done to save them from re-victimisation in this digital world. The participating entities called on the African Union Member States to reaffirm the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection. They further called on strengthened steps to be initiated to support the implementation of the respective United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

The Summit called on for collaboration between the government, regional organisations and law enforcement to bring this issue to an end. The organisations also reiterated to share the best expertise and practices to tackle the issue in all its forms. The African Union and the Member States are committed to enhance leadership to push forward the agenda of protecting the rights of its citizens and ensuring their well being. The concern does not remain restricted just to the nations under the African Union but also to the rest of the world as well, where exploitation against children remains active. Thus, it is required that nations must come along and join hands to pursue concrete efforts to battle the issue.

Access to universal internet facility has brought with it various opportunities and great social and economic benefits but at the cost of exploitation of many, of which children are the youngest to be exploited in several parts of the world. With rapid expansion and fermentation of digital communication technologies and dwindling digital divide, protecting children from online exploitation becomes more of an urgent global priority. Protecting children from digital exploitation forms part of an augmenting global movement in order to ensure their safety from violence, abuse and exploitation both physically and virtually. Passivity in this regard, on anyone’s part would increase the scope of further exploitation, thus, ‘act alone’ could not be thought of as a good choice. It is the concerted efforts of all the nations that are needed to battle this dire situation to stand a chance of rescuing victims and identify and punish the offenders and to let the young stars shine bright in the dark sky.

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