“We need a large prevention strategy,” said Roberta Angellilli, EU Vice president and spokesman for the Rome municipal authority on children’s issues, in an interview with the Council of Europe. “Institutions must speak out and be on the citizen’s side, especially if the citizen is vulnerable.
“The campaign is really well done, well conceived. There is a need to change the way of thinking about women and children first of all à give positive messages. We must consider women and children’s body, their image, not as a merchandise, not like something that can be sold, used. We need more respect and awareness.”
The Council of Europe (CoE) campaign, featuring a television video and a city poster scheme, highlights the need to combat the sexual abuse of children which, according to estimates, affects one in five children living in Europe.
Child rights experts hope the campaign will succeed in breaking the “circle of trust” which often protects predators and encourage more children to feel able to talk openly about the abuse they have suffered.
“This is a practical example of how we can probably decrease in a sensitive way the rate, if we can say so, of abuses and sexual violence committed towards children,” said CoE expert Carlo Chiaromonte.
Yasmin Abo Loha, programs’ coordinator of the child rights organisation ECPAT-Italy hoped the campaign would have a broader impact.
“We talk of sexual violence towards children, or sexual use of children, the fundamental thing we fight for is introducing a culture of childhood,” she said
“Unfortunately the biggest part of the problem is set inside the house, because there is incapacity of talking about those problems and in informing our own children, or to protect them.
“It is very significant the factor according to which minors are still not completely integrated in our society from a cultural point of view. I cannot deny we still live in an adult based society.”
The campaign also highlights the abuse of children outside of Europe by holidaymakers, a crime often referred to as sex tourism. This sparked the fury of Roberto Corbella, President of ASTORI (Italian association of tour operators).
“We reject the word “tourism” connected to this kind of activity, because there is nothing that can be defined touristic in exploiting children around the world,” he declared.
“This is something that must be condemned whether is committed by our neighbors or faraway from us. It has nothing to do with tourism that is discovering other cultures and populations and enjoying new experiences.”
Video: The Underwear Rule
Podcast: Fighting The Sexual Abuse Of Children [it]