Ending Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children: The Role of Faith Communities

As we mark the global Day of Prayer and Action for Children (DPAC) today, 20 November 2018, we reflect on Dr. Alaa Murabit’s insights on Ending Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children: The Role of Faith Communities.

Dr. Murabit is the UN High – level Commissioner on Health, Employment and Economic Growth. She was one of the keynote speakers on the topic during the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) 5th Forum in Panama, May 2017.

Dr. Murabit cited patriarchal societies delegitimising women and girls, as a broader cause of sexual violence . She also emphasised the need to have places of worship become truly places of solace, safety and comfort. She further pointed out that religious communities have social, economic and political influence that they must use to speak against sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

Below is a summary of her recommendations on Ending Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children: The Role of Faith Communities:

  1. Set an example regarding treatment/leadership positions of women; faith communities must stand for equal education/employment for girls.
  2. Be courageous and speak about these topics at worship services and offer support.
  3. Use places of worship as community resources and lend these as safe spaces to victims/survivors at their most vulnerable times.
  4. Create mechanisms that help faith communities to be transparent on sexual exploitation and abuse of children as well as mechanisms of consequences for those who conceal/hide or do not demonstrate their responsibility; make progress measurable.
  5. Use existing structures/programs and organisations that champion education of girls.
  6. Make religious source grant funding conditional on proven support for safety for children.
  7. Join together to create political leverage; for example, demanding a new High Commissioner on Child Safety and Protection.
  8. Influence media coverage of this issue (sexual exploitation and abuse of children); for instance, to disallow use of terms such as ‘child prostitution’ because children do not know neither do they fully understand what is happening to them.

Find out more about these recommendations on ending violence against children, and our 10 Panama Commitments on Ending Violence aganist Children, here